Corey Knebel is a long way from where he was at this point last season.
Knebel has gone from pitching at the University of Texas to pitching for the Detroit Tigers in the span of one year’s time, an incredible feat.
After dominating in the minor leagues, Knebel received the call-up he was well deserving of, but it didn’t go the way the Tigers planned.
Knebel pitched a full inning, allowing three runs on three hits, striking out one while walking two. He entered the game with two outs in the fifth and gave up a run scoring double that was charged to starter Rick Porcello. He then gave up a three run triple in the ensuing sixth inning.
Despite the struggles in his debut, Knebel is still going to be part of the solution to the bullpen woes the Tigers have had this season.
Knebel was no match for minor league hitters. In 45 appearances spanning Single, Double and Triple A over the past season, Knebel has accumulated a 5-1 record with a 0.90 ERA. He has passed every test in the minor leagues, so the Tigers had no choice but to call him up.
Early struggles can be expected from a kid who is just 22 years old, but his upside is encouraging. The Tigers bullpen has been awful this season and calling up Knebel is a no lose situation. If Knebel can figure things out, he could provide the Tigers with a steady option in the bullpen. If he can’t, the Tigers can send him back to Triple A for more work, knowing he has the stuff to be back in the future.
With a fastball sitting in the mid 90s and excellent minor league numbers, Knebel will be a key piece of future Tigers bullpens, whether it be sometime this season or down the road in an upcoming season. If you’re Brad Ausmus and the Tigers, you let Knebel work his problems out at the major league level, similar to what they’ve done with Nick Castellanos, because it’s not like he’s replacing anybody who is having consistent success on the mound.