This Corey Knebel stat proves that the Dodgers acquiring him was a stroke of genius.
While most of MLB was spending Wednesday’s non-tender deadline deciding whether to extend a contract to their pre-arbitration and arbitration-eligible players for 2021, the Los Angeles Dodgers got busy and made a significant upgrade to their bullpen as they prepare to defend their championship.
For what feels like the hundredth time over the last few years, the Dodgers proved they are always two steps ahead of the rest of the league when it was announced that they acquired reliever Corey Knebel from Milwaukee in exchange for cash considerations or a player to be named player just before he was non-tendered by the Brewers ahead of the 8 p.m. ET deadline.
The Dodgers’ bullpen was arguably their only weakness during their World Series run, and this move indicates the front office is motivated to get the issue sorted out. For fans in Los Angeles who aren’t familiar with Knebel’s craft, the fact that he owned a 0.90 ERA in the postseason for Milwaukee proves that the deal was even smarter than originally perceived.
In fairness to Knebel, all of those stats are impressive, but the postseason ERA sticks out among the rest of the bunch simply because the Dodgers struggled mightily in that department once October rolled around.
After leading the National League with a 2.74 bullpen ERA during the regular season, the Dodgers had five relievers –Dustin May, Blake Treinen, Dylan Floro, Kenley Jensen and Tony Gonsolin — register an ERA over 4.20 in the playoffs. Some of those hurlers did make starts for Los Angeles, but all of them made a handful of appearances out of the pen in the postseason.
While Knebel shouldn’t be expected to cure all of those blemishes, his arrival will provide some much needed stability in the later innings, especially with Pedro Baez, who pitched to a solid (though untrustworthy) 3.52 ERA in eight playoff cameos in 2020, hitting free agency.
Like many pitchers, Knebel struggled in the truncated season after missing the entirety of 2019 with a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow, but he compiled a respectable 3.31 ERA, 310 strikeouts and a 1.230 WHIP across 213.4 innings in four previous seasons for the Brewers.
Assuming the 2017 All-Star is able to find that form over a full 162-game slate, the Dodgers will ultimately prove to have made out like bandits with this trade.