What more can you ask of a guy who’s appeared in just 15 games since the start of 2019?
The former Milwaukee Brewer missed all of 2019 after having his 2018 season cut short due to Tommy John surgery.
He returned in 2020, but the results weren’t great (6.08 ERA, 1.73 WHIP in 15 games).
Do you think a pandemic-shortened season that adversely affected pitchers the most was going to yield different results?
He’s clearly still on the mend, but you can’t deny his stuff wasn’t looking nasty on Wednesday.
That fastball looks sharp and his hook has some serious movement. If he can get back to consistently pumping 97-99 MPH and then buckle hitters’ knees with that curve, the Dodgers will have themselves a bonafide late-inning weapon.
Oh wait … they already view him as such heading into 2021.
There’s a reason Los Angeles called up the Brewers about a trade before they were about to non-tender him: Andrew Friedman didn’t want other teams getting a chance to swipe him off the market.
You also have to realize Knebel wasn’t unleashed or utilized in 2020 like he was in previous years. Returning from Tommy John surgery after a truncated/complicated offseason simply didn’t help his case, and the Brewers had Josh Hader and Devin Williams to deploy in high-leverage situations.
Knebel largely entered games when the Brew Crew were up big or down big and was brought in for just three high-leverage situations. Granted, his two blown saves didn’t help his cause, but again, every circumstance worked against him in his first action back from major surgery.
The Dodgers have good reason to believe this will be a bounce-back year for Knebel, and the fact he’ll be stashed in a stacked bullpen featuring Kenley Jansen, Blake Treinen, Brusdar Graterol, Joe Kelly, Victor Gonzalez, Julio Urias and eventually Tommy Kahnle, he’ll have plenty of opportunities to get back on the horse and work his way back to 2017 form.