The Phillies announced they placed reliever Corey Knebel on the 15-day injured list with a right lat strain. Bullpen mate Sam Coonrod is back from the 60-day IL to take Knebel’s spot on the active roster. To clear a place on the 40-man for Coonrod, recent waiver claim Andrew Vasquez has been designated for assignment.
An IL stint for Knebel seemed likely after the veteran left yesterday’s appearance on account of the lat issue. The team announced he was headed for an MRI last night, the results of which still aren’t clear. The imaging results will determine how long Knebel’s on the shelf, but he’ll at least have to miss the next couple weeks. A right lat strain cost Knebel upwards of three months with the Dodgers last season, although it’s presently unknown whether his current issue is of a similar severity. Signed to a one-year, $10MM deal over the offseason, the 30-year-old has a decent 3.43 ERA over 44 2/3 innings in a Phils uniform, although that’s come with a personal-worst 21.1% strikeout rate.
To take Knebel’s bullpen spot, the Phils reinstate Coonrod to make his season debut. The hard-throwing righty was acquired from the Giants over the 2020-21 offseason and made 42 appearances during his debut campaign in Philadelphia. He posted a 4.04 ERA through 42 1/3 frames, striking out batters at a solid 25.9% clip while inducing a massive 57.1% ground-ball percentage. Paired with a fastball that averaged nearly 99 MPH, those peripherals suggested Coonrod could have an opportunity to carve out a key high-leverage role in 2022.
Instead, he’s missed the first four months of the season after straining his throwing shoulder during Spring Training. The 29-year-old has been on a rehab assignment since July 22, including seven appearances with Triple-A Lehigh Valley. He’s now apparently healthy enough for a return, where he’ll add a power right-handed arm for interim manager Rob Thomson.
Vasquez hasn’t made a major league appearance as a Phillie. Claimed off waivers from the Blue Jays on deadline day, he was immediately optioned to Lehigh Valley. He’s appeared four times with the IronPigs, allowing two runs (one earned) with three strikeouts and a walk. He also performed very well with Toronto’s top affiliate through the season’s first few months, allowing just three runs in 11 frames with a 15:2 strikeout-to-walk ratio while inducing grounders on two-thirds of batted balls.
That hasn’t carried over in his brief big league look with the Jays, as the 28-year-old served up six runs in 6 2/3 frames. This year’s nine MLB appearances match a career high for Vasquez, who has 13 1/3 career big league innings despite having reached the majors in four of the past five years. He’s performed quite well in Triple-A over the last two years, however, with those numbers intriguing enough he’s bounced between four organizations in the past 12 months.
It’s possible Vasquez will change uniforms again soon, as he’s slated to hit the waiver wire within the next few days. He’s in his final minor league option year, so any claiming team could stash him in Triple-A for the rest of this season (although he’d have to crack the Opening Day roster in 2023 or be taken off the 40-man roster). With Vasquez’s strong minor league work, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him land with another club seeking lefty bullpen depth.