The Milwaukee Brewers made a handful of roster moves today in advance of the opening game of the series in Detroit. First, the release of Justin Smoak was made official after he was designated for assignment on 3 September. Later in the day, the club announced that Corey Knebel was being activated off the Injured List and Mark Mathias was getting optioned to the Alternate Training Site before to make room on the roster.
RHP Corey Knebel has been reinstated from the 10-day injured list. INF/OF Mark Mathias has been optioned to the Alternate Training Site. pic.twitter.com/7duPeuIGvl— Milwaukee Brewers (@Brewers) September 8, 2020
Knebel will continue his attempt to return from the Tommy John surgery that kept him on the shelf for the entire 2019 season. He last appeared for Milwaukee on 19 August but has struggled in his first action since coming back, allowing seven earned runs in 6.2 innings covering nine appearances this summer. His fastball velocity was down 3 ticks (to 94.7 MPH) from where it was when he was healthy in 2018, his curveball velo was down a similar amount, and he generated swinging-strikes at only a 7.5% rate — well off the 13+% marks he posted in 2017-18. The former closer will surely have to earn his way back into a high-leverage role, though having Knebel back to form would surely help a bullpen that ranks in the middle third of MLB with a 4.20 ERA.
Mathias has hit .278 so far during his stints with the big league club, but he hasn’t walked and has only three extra-base hits in 36 plate appearances, translating to a 67 wRC+. But he’s appeared at five different positions and seems likely to be back at some point if/when the Brewers need a bench bat.
As for Smoak, his release comes as no surprise after he was DFA’d last week. Despite a meager .186/.262/.381 slash line in 33 games this year, the veteran switch-hitter is reportedly expected to land on his feet.
Justin Smoak was just released by the Brewers but he’s expected to find work soon— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) September 8, 2020
Statistics courtesy of Fangraphs