Yesterday, Robert Murray reported that Corey Knebel had been shut down from throwing for a few days, but club officials suggested that it wasn’t something that they were concerned about. Then, this morning, Craig Counsell told reporters that there was “reason for concern” regarding the health of Knebel’s elbow. This evening, Craig Counsell elaborated on the former All-Star reliever’s condition:
Corey Knebel has a UCL issue and will get a second opinion. Craig Counsell said it is not a complete tear, and that Knebel has pitched with it for a while.— Todd Rosiak (@Todd_Rosiak) March 21, 2019
#Brewers manager Craig Counsell on Corey Knebel's UCL injury: "Corey has pitched with this for a long time. We've got to figure out what's there, what's new. Make sure we get the right answer and then move forward." Next step is second opinion.— Tom (@Haudricourt) March 21, 2019
Back in Knebel’s big league debut year in 2014, shortly after he was traded from the Tigers to the Rangers at midseason, he was shut down and missed the final two months of the season with a UCL injury. Knebel never did undergo Tommy John surgery and was traded to Milwaukee that following offseason. He was able to rehab from the injury in time to pitch a full season in 2015 between Triple-A Colorado Springs and Milwaukee, and hasn’t had any recurrence of elbow problems since then.
Well, until now that is.
Manager Craig Counsell wasn’t ready to write off Knebel for the rest of the season yet, suggesting that they won’t know whether or not he’ll need Tommy John surgery until after the results of the second opinion. Still, it seems likely that Knebel will be headed for a lengthy stint on the injured list even if he’s able to go the PRP injection and rehab route.
With Knebel now on the shelf for an undetermined amount of time and Jeremy Jeffress not due back until mid-to-late April, what was once a strength in Milwaukee’s bullpen now appears to be in a state of flux. Josh Hader is still present, but he’s more valuable in a multi-inning fireman role than he is as a Capital-C Closer. After Hader and Junior Guerra, guys like Matt Albers, Chase Anderson, Taylor Williams, Alex Claudio, Jacob Barnes, and Jake Petricka could be lined up for prominent relief roles.
Of course, the team could always just sign Craig Kimbrel too.