Brewers Success Depends on Corey Knebel’s Return

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Over the past few seasons, Corey Knebel, a 28-year-old right-handed reliever for the Milwaukee Brewers, has helped lead his team to a successful run. Lately, he’s been recovering from injury after undergoing Tommy John surgery in early April of 2019. However, that did not stop Milwaukee from offering him arbitration this off-season, which was worth $5,125,000 for 2020. How important will he be for Corey Knebel to return to the team in 2019?

When Will Corey Knebel Return?

Though it isn’t Knebel’s first time going under the knife, the recovery time for Tommy John surgery is roughly 12-15 months. However, this can vary from patient to patient. Currently, Knebel is almost 11 months into his recovery process. In today’s game, the surgery isn’t uncommon for major league pitchers; 26 percent of pitchers in 2017 previously received it at some point in their careers. The success rate of the surgery – meaning a return to pitching in major league games – is between 85-90 percent.

According to Adam McCalvy of MLB.com, Knebel has a chance to return during the first week of May. He threw his fourth bullpen session on Friday. This keeps him well on track for the 12-15 month recovery period. It is likely he will receive low-stress innings when he first returns. Milwaukee plans to be cautious with him and will not rush his comeback. Fortunately, the Brewers are confident that he will be able to return to his full talent and power.

Knebel’s Impact in the Bullpen

In his 2017 All-Star campaign, Knebel had 39 saves with an astonishing 1.78 ERA and 126 strikeouts in 76 innings. In 2018, he played a vital role in the Brewers’ bullpen that was top-five in combined ERA. Also, he was a main contributor to the Brewers postseason push.

A healthy Knebel is pivotal for the Brewers Postseason chances. Milwaukee greatly missed his presence in the club last year. His ability as a high-end closer takes off an enormous amount of pressure put on Josh Hader and the rest of the bullpen. With Knebel back, Hader can return to his long-reliever role and eat important innings in tight games. In addition, this can take the pressure off the rotation and allow manager Craig Counsell to make easier decisions with the knowledge that he has two go-to options for later innings.

The Brewers will look forward to welcoming their closer back to the team in May. Ultimately, Corey Knebel’s return is key to bringing back a dominant Brewers bullpen similar to 2018 and pursuing their third postseason in a row.

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Jeromey is Baseball writer for Last Word on Baseball and Overtime Heroics. He currently studies Journalism and Economics at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. He aspires to have a career in sports journalism.