Andrew Friedman and the Dodgers have a long history of fixing broken relievers. Add Corey Knebel to that list.
Injuries derailed Knebel after two strong seasons with the Brewers. The reliever then missed all of the 2019 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery. He also missed 93 games with the Dodgers due to a lat strain.
The key to the righty’s resurgence with LA in 2021 once he was healthy again?
More curveballs and fewer fastballs.
Knebel explained the Dodgers coaching staff’s strategy of adjusting his pitch mix to Matt Gelb of The Athletic.
“They really liked my curveball. They said, ‘you’ve been more reliant on your fastball your entire career. So now we’re going to change that around. You’re going to throw your curveball in a lot of curveball and fastball counts.’”
Knebel threw his curveball 41.9% of the time in 202, a career high. He threw his fastball 58.1% of the time, a career low. The result? A 2.45 ERA and a 0.97 WHIP in 25.2 IP for the one-time All-Star.
Los Angeles took a flyer on Knebel and now, the Philadelphia Phillies are hoping to reap the rewards. The Phillies signed Knebel to a one-year, $10 million deal prior to the December 1st lockout.
The Texas native learned a lot from the Dodgers curveball heavy approach.
“My confidence has already been pretty high with my curveball, but I gained it even more. I mean, I was throwing it in situations where I’ve never thrown it before.”
Knebel has been through hell-and-back with injuries since his incredible 2017 campaign (1.78 ERA in 76 IP).
Even though it’s not with the Dodgers, it’s great to see Knebel continue to pitch in the MLB.