To close out the 9th inning in Game 1, the Milwaukee Brewers turned to Corey Knebel instead of Jeremy Jeffress.
Jeffress came on in the 8th inning, and three runs scored after a couple of bloop base hits. But he got through the inning with the lead and most of us probably expected to see Jeffress back out for the ninth. But instead it was Corey Knebel.
Knebel had the closer’s job at the beginning of the year, but injured his hamstring in April, returned six weeks later, but he wasn’t really the same. He lost the job to Jeremy Jeffress and ended up getting demoted to Triple-A.
After returning from a short stint in Colorado Springs, Knebel has been lights out. Prior to tonight, Knebel hadn’t allowed a run since September 2nd. And Craig Counsell went with Knebel in the 9th inning, meaning Jeffress only was in the game for one out.
Is Knebel Back In The Closer’s Role?
Jeffress has been shaky lately, but I still think that job is his. Knebel has been used in a variety of roles since returning, and Counsell does trust him again.
However, should Jeffress continue to struggle, Counsell is going to need to have a shorter leash and put someone in the 9th inning that will consistently get outs. Knebel is a hot pitcher right now, which plays in his favor.
When it comes to the playoffs, managers need to go with the hot hand. If a pitcher or a hitter is struggling, there isn’t much wiggle room to allow them to work through it during games.
Is There Even A Closer’s Role Anymore?
Should Counsell even have a set closer? The Milwaukee Brewers have clearly put their faith in analytics and matchup data to make decisions for the team. When it comes to the ninth inning, having a pitcher strictly pitch out of that role may be something that Counsell decides to do away with in October.
If there’s a more favorable lefty/righty matchup or whatever Counsell sees, there’s a strong possibility he could go with several different guys in a ninth inning.
The Milwaukee Brewers have Wade Miley on the mound for Game 2. When it comes to the ninth inning, the role is still Jeffress’, but if he continues to struggle, the job will go to Knebel.
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It was a great win in Game 1 and the Brewers have taken an early series lead. They’re just three wins away from reaching their first World Series since 1982 and are seven wins away from winning their first title in franchise history. Just take these games one day at a time.