Corey Knebel was sharp in 2015 but couldn't pick up where he left off, as an oblique injury resulted in his season debut being delayed until June. He had trouble getting started as well, allowing five runs in his first eight appearances, and he never quite managed to settle in. Knebel managed 38 strikeouts in just 32.2 innings, but he finished with a brutal 4.4 BB/9 and often paid for issuing so many free passes. He now owns a mediocre 4.03 ERA in three major league seasons despite a sharp 10.5 K/9. Knebel is just 25 in 2017 and has a high ceiling if he can rein in his control (3.5 career BB/9). But walks often come around to bite the pitchers who concede them, and Knebel is in no way immune. The Brewers seem willing to bet on his stuff winning out over his past results. He will enter spring training as the favorite to be the primary setup man after the Brewers acquired Neftali Feliz to fill their open closer's role.
Knebel is no longer expected to enter the season as the Brewers' closer after the signing of Neftali Feliz on Thursday. Prior to the Feliz signing, Knebel was the favorite to close games for the Brewers in 2017, but that won't be the case, at least not early in the season. It is possible that the Brewers will flip Feliz at the trade deadline if he is having a good season, so Knebel could still get a handful of saves, but he is now simply a speculative play in deeper leagues.
Knebel appears poised to enter spring training as the Brewers' top closer candidate, Adam McCalvy of MLB.com reports. In less than six months, Knebel has skyrocketed up the pecking order in the Brewers' bullpen, as the team shipped away their top two relievers in Jeremy Jeffress and Will Smith at the trade deadline this past summer, and dealt Tyler Thornburg, who served as the team's primary closer in the second half, to the Red Sox on Tuesday. While the Brewers will likely make further additions to the bullpen as the offseason progresses, Knebel, a 25-year-old with a biting mid-90s fastball, now looks like the top option remaining in an inexperienced bullpen. Though early-season struggles resulted in Knebel spending much of the first half in the minors, he seemed to make positive adjustments upon rejoining the club after the All-Star break, posting an 18.2 K-BB% en route to a 3.43 FIP. He'll likely need to perform well in spring training in order to secure closing duties, but he could represent an attractive late-round dart for those who draft early.
Knebel secured the hold over one inning of relief in a 4-2 victory against the Rockies on Monday, allowing one walk and no hits. This was Knebel's third hold in August, the most he's accumulated in a given month since his call-up on June 9. His 22 strikeouts over 17.1 innings pitched provides some slight upside for the right-hander working in the back-half of the bullpen. However, Knebel's 5.2 BB:9 minimizes any serious fantasy impact.
Knebel was recalled Thursday. Knebel was recalled from Triple-A Colorado Springs on Thursday to replace Michael Blazek who was optioned on Sunday. Knebel has accumulated a 1.42 ERA over his last 10 outings for the Brewers Triple-A Affiliate and figures to provide bullpen depth during his most recent stay in the majors.
Knebel was optioned to Triple-A Colorado Springs on Sunday, Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports. After missing a good chunk to begin the season because of an oblique issue, Knebel struggled out of the Brewers' bullpen, allowing four earned runs in 4.1 innings. His return to Triple-A opens up a spot for Michael Blazek to be activated off the 15-day DL, but it certainly wouldn't be surprising if he's back in the majors at some point later in the season.