Recently-minted Phillies manager Rob Thomson told Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia today that Corey Knebel is out as the team’s closer, for the time being. Signed to a one-year $10MM deal this past offseason, Knebel hasn’t demonstrated the same sharpness he did in last year’s campaign with the Dodgers. While this season’s 3.24 ERA through 25 innings is plenty respectable, his 20.7% strikeout rate is far from his career average while his 14.4% walk rate ranks amongst the worst in the league. Knebel’s four blown saves also stand as the highest mark in the league at the moment.
After a messy May, the Phillies have surged with an 11-2 record thus far in June, bringing their season record above .500 to 32-31. Despite the recent hot stretch, the Phillies remain eight and a half games back of the first place Mets in their division and three and a half games back of the last NL wild card spot. A closer-by-committee approach figures to help the team stay in their groove, with Seranthony Dominguez and Brad Hand representing steadier options than Knebel thus far.
Some other Wednesday items from the Senior Circuit…
- After optioning Mickey Moniak on Tuesday, the Phillies appear set to roll with a platoon of Matt Vierling and Odúbel Herrera in center field. The Athletic’s Matt Gelb speculates how the team may upgrade that arrangement given the feeble production from the first two players thus far, plus the questions that have plagued Herrera dating back to his 2019 suspension. Gelb lists Michael A. Taylor, Ramón Laureano, and Victor Robles as realistic trade targets for the club should they seek to plug a defense-first option between corner outfielders Kyle Schwarber and Nick Castellanos. The center field platoon’s production will be worth monitoring through the summer, as the Phillies have holes in the infield and bullpen as well but may not possess enough financial or prospect capital to address all three areas.
- One center fielder who isn’t an option for the Phillies, or perhaps for any team much longer, is Lorenzo Cain. Speaking with Andy McCullough of The Athletic, the 36-year-old Brewer acknowledged the likelihood that this season may very well be his last in the major leagues. The two-time All-Star remains a strong defensive player and as affable a clubhouse personality as any, but admits to difficulties in elevating his offense at the ten-year mark of his career. To that end, a .168/.223/.226 showing through 41 games has already begun to cost him some playing time this season. For now though, President of Baseball Operations David Stearns remains in Cain’s corner, citing Cain’s defense and contributions to four straight years of playoff baseball in Milwaukee as reasons to exhibit patience.
- Nationals manager Dave Martinez has an update on another 2015 World Series champ, stating that Opening Day shortstop Alcides Escobar will return in a utility role when he completes his current rehab assignment. 22-year-old Luis García will be given some leash at the position after his hot start to the year at the Triple-A (.899 OPS in 42 games) and Major League (.829 OPS in 13 games) levels. Neither player profiles as a defensively elite shortstop at this point in their careers, so Escobar’s current OPS of .552 figures to cut into the playing time of other slow-starting veterans’ around the infield (Maikel Franco, .669 OPS; Cesar Hernandez, .646 OPS) over the youngster looking to establish himself.
Stearns is only in Cain’s corner because he’s under contract. It’s not like Cain contributed much to the last three playoff teams.
Jarrod Dyson or Ender Inciarte are nice guys that play great defense, too. I would hope you’re a great teammate if you’re eating up that much salary and producing worse than what a AA player would.
Knebel will be traded back to the Dodgers at the deadline.
Phillies can have Kimbrel if they want him. LOL
We’ll give you Cody Bellinger for Knebel and Herrera.
I never thought I’d say this, but I’d rather have Knebel and Herrera.
I don’t blame you, Especially for the amount of money he gets paid.
I keep waiting for the old Belly to return, but it’s been 3 years. He will have 2 or 3 really good games and you think “he’s turning the corner” and then he’ll give us just 2 or 3 good “at bats” over a week with a ton of k’s.
Maybe playing half his games at CB Park will help. His warning track flyouts in LA will be over the fence there.
Surprisingly, CBP is one of the worst hitting parks this year. The ball just hasn’t carried. It’ll probably change as the weather warms, but it’s been tough for sluggers.
Knebel’s performance has been simply Evel.
It was a stretch, but I appreciate the effort.
Perhaps you can windup with a better one.
Robles would be a good add to Phillies. Light offense, but defense is solid. Moniak just can’t hit
Does Moniak play poor defense? You also have TJ Friedl or perhaps Brad Zimmer, both of whom are defensively sound, and would probably cost less than Robles.
It’s not nearly good enough to make up for his inability to hit anything.
His defense is average to good. His offense has been terrible to horrendous. They sent him down to fix his swing.
Non-sarcastically, I like your evaluation system
Seems funny to me that the word on Moniak is his defense is good but his hitting isn’t. So the Phillies are looking for other center fielders who are good defensively but don’t hit much either?? Why bother? Waste of money to get a higher priced veteran if there will be little if any improvement.
It is highly doubtful that the Phillies will trade for a cf. Herrera is slightly above average defensively, and an adaquate hitter for the position.
Familia should be given his unconditional release, as soon as either Maton or Camargo come off the il. Carry one less reliever, and an extra infielder that can contribute.
I think Knebel will bounce back at some point. His stuff is still good ( unlike Familia), but he has lost his control. Romero, Emanuel and Sheriff are all on re-hab assignments. The hope is that one of them, can be productive, starting sometime in July. If that is the case, then the Phillies will only have to trade for one late inning reliever.
Dumpster Divin Theo
Thing I like about Knebel, when you say jump, he says how many monster trucks?
On an unrelated topic. Can we just talk about the cubs pitching staff. This has to be the worst rotation and bullpen they have ever had, and that’s saying something. I know they are rebuilding but dear god how long can you keep trotting Daniel Noris out there. I truly think Frank the Tank was their best pitcher tonight. At this point just lure Bartolo out of the buffet and at least make it funny to watch because this is just sad
They signed a million guys for the staff this offseason. Stroman needs to pitch better to trade him. lol
Stroman is a “head case”. Unless he is pitching very well, he is expensive, and much more trouble than he is worth.
They signed a million guys for the staff this offseason. Stroman needs to pitch better to trade him.
I’d rather have Laureano than all those options. Taylor as been solid for KC though. Couls get a deal from Oakland for roid boy.
Herrera has been one of their top hitters even though they don’t play him every game. He’s also hit LH and RH about equally well this year. It’s mostly a case of the team and fans not letting go of his off-field issues even though the league and Player’s Union say he’s paid for that.. Kind of comical to read about how bad Herrera is almost daily when he’s been second only to Harper in most key offensive categories and his defense has generally been at least average, usually better on the UZR side.
People pick up on a narrative and never let go. Things change in baseball as in any part of life. We all constantly change as people – good and bad.
The comments here regarding the Phillies the past week or so have been comical. No one seems to follow them, but they feel like making comments as if MLB is a rotisserie league. The fact is that Dave Dombrowski has a remarkable track record as a Baseball Ops head for upwards of 35 years (with additional FO experience before that). He knows that you don’t build a team trading poor players for good players because other FO people are not that dumb. Rather you have to have your entire organizational infrastructure work with individual players to make them better at the ML level. The results thus far this year are an improved bullpen along with better defense and hitting up the middle (lots of platooning at at 2b, 3b and CF). The team is still a bit inconsistent, but that’ll be smoothed out. It’s great that they pulled Knebel out of closing, maybe they can square him away for set-up work. Seranthony Dominguez is clearly their closer of the future, and the future may well be now. Can only hope that Jeurys Familia and Jose Alvarado are not put in critical game situations – Connor Brogdon, Andrew Bellatti and Brad Hand are fine as set-up men; bring in another starter and move Ranger Suarez back to the bullpen where he excels.
As for Moniak, his going to the minors had nothing to do with a demotion. The Phillies were about to face 4 LH starters in upcoming games, so they sent Moniak out to get regular AB’s and brought in a RH hitting infield utility guy to see if he can contribute. So far he’s shown he can’t. Moniak will be back. And as far as Matt Vierling goes – he’s been remarkable lately. Playing not just in CF but in the corners, 2B and 3B as well. He’s been a major contributor to their recent surge.
It would be nice if more posters that watch games would share what teams are doing, as select statistics and narratives are almost always off base…..MLB and everything else in life.
Let’s say that you are right, and it wasn’t a demotion. But it is okay to say that he’s been awful. Beyond that, he has no fit for the team. Unless he can hit, he can’t be a #4 OF. And since Herrera is a lefty, he can’t even platoon. They need to keep in AAA the rest of the year (barring injuries), and hope he can claim the job next spring.
Like you stated, barring an injury to Herrera, there is no place for Moniak on the Phillies at this point. Moniak has to keep his head up, and play well at aaa, and hope for another chance at some point.
Improved bullpen? Better defense?? Have you watched the Phillies at all this year?
Sorry, but your love for Dombrowski doesn’t make any of this true
Herrera has been their second best offensive player behind Harper. His defense hasn’t been bad either. While a CF upgrade would still be nice, I think people are overlooking what Herrera has done.
The writers that knock Herrera incessantly, don’t understand that it undermines any credibility that they may have had.
It feels like every year there’s a piece of news saying: “X player has been removed as Phillies closer”. It happened to Jeanmar Gómez, Hector Neris, and now Knebel.