The Dodgers bullpen could have entered the 2021 season without any additions and still been very good. The combination of Brusdar Graterol, Victor Gonzalez, Blake Treinen, Joe Kelly, and Kenley Jansen could have done a decent enough job to at least get to the postseason.
But that’s not how Andrew Friedman works. Rather than buying one big name, Friedman assembled a squad of reclamation projects and former All-Stars. Out of everyone, at least one of them should bounce back. And the Dodgers are hoping that Corey Knebel is one of those guys.
The good news for the Dodgers is that Knebel is feeling healthy for the first time in a long time. In a media call on Tuesday morning, he said that he was just about as close as he could be physically to when he was at the top of his game.
I’m feeling a lot closer than I was last year. So right now, I think I’m in a great spot where I am. We’ve got a whole other month and a week of Spring Training left. I’m feeling confident that I can get close or right back where I used to be.
In terms of health, Knebel is coming off of a 2018 season in which a hamstring issue hampered his entire year. In 2019, he had Tommy John surgery to repair a torn UCL. His hamstring issue flared up again in 2020 landing him on the Injured List with Milwaukee. But right before the Brewers were going to non-tender him, the Dodgers jumped in and made a trade.
For Knebel, that confidence from the Dodgers made him feel like he could be very good again.
If they’re going to go out of their way and trade for me right there, of course they see something in me that maybe I didn’t last year…it gives you a little bit of confidence right there.
At his peak in 2017, Knebel was a force out of the Brewers bullpen. He struck out almost 15 batters per 9 innings and was elite in leaving runners on base. His excellent spin rate on his fastball and offspeed no doubt drew the attention of the Dodgers, as did his NLCS performance against them in 2018.
If the Dodgers can get him back to full health, Knebel could once again be a dominant force coming out of their bullpen.
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