What Will Corey Knebel’s Role be with Phillies?
The Phillies search for a closer might have stopped on Corey Knebel.
The team has struggled to find a steady closer since 2015 when Jonathan Papelbon held the position from 2012-15.
But in giving Knebel, a 1-year $10 million deal, all signs point to the team trying to get saves from the former Brewers closer at a discounted price.
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The Phillies have a lot of other areas that need to be addressed, so putting a lot of resources into the closing position is not ideal. Knowing that, it appears Dave Dombrowski found a guy who wanted the opportunity to close games, and didn't have the resume to ask for big bucks.
In 27 appearances for the Dodgers, Knebel sported a 2.45 ERA in 2021, but missed a lot of time due to a lat strain injury, meaning the Phillies were able to convince him to come to Philadelphia on a 'show-me' deal.
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The 30-year old showed promise as one of the best closers in baseball in 2017, saving 39 games with the Milwaukee Brewers, He was on his way to another great season, with 16 saves and a 1.08 WHIP in 2018 before going down in an injury that would require Tommy John surgery.
It a two-way street here, the Phillies need a closer at a discounted rate, while Knebel wants to prove he can get the final out in the ninth inning again and get back out on the free agent market and get a bigger deal.
Adding Knebel to the bullpen that lost Hector Neris gives them a new look. I can envision a pen with Knebel in the ninth, and former closer, Seranthony Dominguez, getting the ball in the eighth inning.
In 2018, Dominguez looked like a future star in the Phillies bullpen, saving 16 games, with 14 holds, a 2.95 ERA, 0.93 WHIP and 74 strikeouts in 58 inning pitched. However, injuries have derailed what appeared to be a promising career and Dominguez made just 27 appearances in 2019 with the Phillies before shutting down.
He made his final appearance for the team in June 5, 2019 before undergoing Tommy John elbow reconstructive surgery last July, causing him to miss all of the 2020 and all but one inning of the 2021 season.
In addition to Dominguez, the Phillies still like Connor Brogdon, who went 5-4 with a 3.43 ERA, 1.13 WHIP and 50 strikeouts in 57 2/3 innings in 2021. Two veteran names are still with the club, lefty Jose Alvarado and right-hander Sam Coonrod.
One other name to keep an eye on is 24-year old lefty Bailey Falter, who could find a role after ending the season with a 5.61 ERA, 1.19 WHIP and 34 strikeouts in 33 2/3 innings with the Phillies in 2021.
After that it will be a open competition down in Clearwater, but my guess here is that Knebel will be called on in the most important innings, after that, its anyone's guess.
We're still two-and-a-half months away from Clearwater, but with the lockout, the team will have to wait to add more pieces to their lineup. When things resume, expect the team to look to add a run producing left fielder and a defensive-minded center fielder to the mix.