Corey Knebel talks on Phillies bullpen struggles, motivated for a bounce-back year
The Phillies bullpen has struggled for almost a decade and has been the main reason that this franchise hasn’t sniffed success in years. Corey Knebel is going to do everything he can to help fix that.
The bullpen blew 34 saves last year, tying the 2004 Colorado Rockies for an all-time MLB record of most blown saves by a team in a season. Hector Neris signed with the Astros, Seranthony Dominguez remains a question mark going into the year, and the Phillies are still relying on bullpen arms like Sam Coonrod and Jose Alvarado to lead them into the 2022 season.
Not great. Anyways, here’s what Knebel had to say about the Phillies bullpen struggles via The Athletic
“I think everyone’s kind of seen it. Yeah, it happens. There’s a lot of scenarios that go into it. But I don’t see it being one person’s fault…I think, from my perspective, I like what I’m bringing over. I think I can help out guys, not just out on the mound, but help out in the bullpen too. Do whatever I have to do. I don’t know. Maybe the bullpen’s focused too much. Maybe I need to go in and we need to stop focusing on the game and just flick some seeds.” – Corey Knebel
Corey Knebel is no secret to setbacks. He’s suffered three injuries over the past four seasons to his shoulder, hamstring, and elbow, which required Tommy John surgery in 2019. He was the Phillies biggest signing before the lockout, inking a one-year, $10M deal on December 1st.
Dave Dombrowski has already hinted at Knebel becoming the team’s closer, and more importantly, a guy that the team can rely on in late-game situations.
“We think he can close games. I think that’s why he signed here. We did not promise him that. We just told him that he’d be a back-end person for us. But we think he has the stuff and he’s healthy, and when he has been that, he has the stuff to do that and he has the makeup to do that. So that’s how we would envision him being for us. We told him we think he can do it. We signed him with that thought process (of being the closer).”- Dave Dombrowski
Corey Knebel has been a force on the mound when healthy. He posted a 2.45 ERA throughout 2021 in 27 games played, allowing just 16 hits, 2 HRs, and threw a WHIP of 0.974.
His 2017 All-Star season was the best of his career. He finished the year with 76 appearances, tallying 39 saves in 76 innings of work, with a 1.78 ERA and a 14.9 SO/9 ratio.
Corey Knebel is only a two-pitch pitcher, but in a bullpen role, that’s sometimes all you need. His strikeout percentage rose 5% from 2020 compared to 2021, and he let up just a .176/.258/.275 hitting line last season.
The Dodgers requested for Knebel to throw his curveball more in the 2021 season, and he did just that. His curveball rate rose to a 42% usage rate, and batters hit just .186 against it. Corey Knebel said he’s always had confidence in the pitch, but last season really helped him settle into his off-speed, his now best pitch in his small arsenal.
The Phillies need an impactful Corey Knebel for the 2022 season if they want to compete. After years of injuries and setbacks to one of the National League’s best relievers when healthy, Knebel has his eyes set on a strong return to the mound for the Phillies in the upcoming season.
Mandatory Credit: Icon Sportswire