1. Corey Knebel, Philadelphia Phillies
While the Philadelphia Phillies attempted to load up on short-term bullpen contracts this year to fix their glaring 2021 (and 2020, and 2019…) deficiency, it didn’t prevent them from blowing a 7-1 lead in the ninth inning to the Mets this past week in a defeat indicative of the team’s recent ability to come up short, despite having the deck stacked in their favor.
Zack Wheeler has grown into the Cy Young hopeful the Phils envisioned he’d be when they signed him. Kyle Schwarber and Nicholas Castellanos have joined MVP Bryce Harper and catcher JT Realmuto in Philly long-term. And yet … a 12-16 record and some water-treading.
With precious few middling teams in possession of rental relievers, could the Phillies really be one of the Dodgers’ only hopes for a midseason sale? Sad, but true.
One-year reliever Jeurys Familia might be easier to attain, but his advanced metrics are muddled. He’s in the 83rd percentile in terms of average exit velocity and routinely whiffs batters (92nd percentile), but his fastball spin is low and he’s getting barreled near-constantly (4th percentile!), indicating that his hard-hit numbers could spike quickly.
Corey Knebel, on the other hand, is performing spectacularly both on the surface (12 innings, 12 Ks, 1.08 WHIP) and below the hood (excellent fastball/curveball spin, low expected hard-hit and BA). Of course that’s the case, though. He learned from the Dodgers’ wizards before going off into the world to sign a one-year, $10 million deal with Philly this offseason.
Returning Knebel to his former home after his new teammates failed around him would be a laugh factory, and with Trevor Bauer’s cash off the books, $5 million for a half-season is nothing if the Phillies continue to tread water.
Be glad at least one fringe-average team gave out some reliever deals that can be taken off their hands this summer. And also be glad this one’s a familiar face.