For the first time in three and a half months, the Dodgers will have Corey Knebel as a late-inning option in their bullpen. The right-hander was activated off the injured list on Tuesday after missing 92 games with a right lat strain.
Acquired from the Brewers at the non-tender deadline of December 2, Knebel had a great start to the season, not allowing a hit in any of his first six appearances, saving two games. He allowed three runs in his next two games and recorded only two outs. After the second of those outings, on April 23, Knebel the next day was placed on the injured list with a right lat strain that was deemed significant enough that he would be out several months.
Knebel didn’t throw at all during the first five weeks after the injury, but was able to do exercises that kept his arm moving without hurting his lat.
Describing himself as “a max effort guy,” Knebel slowly worked his way back, and was finally able to get real-game reps once he started a minor league rehab assignment with Triple-A Oklahoma City starting July 26.
“When I come back, it’s crunch time — August, September, getting ready for the postseason,” Knebel said just before his rehab assignment started. “There’s going to be some big outings, big innings that everyone’s going to have to pitch, and I have to make sure I’m ready for those.”
In six games with OKC, Knebel allowed a run on four hits in 5⅔ innings, with 11 strikeouts (a 47.8-percent strikeout rate) and one walk.
“To get him back on Tuesday, it’s like we get an acquisition,” manager Dave Roberts said Sunday. “We’re excited to have him back.”
Knebel joins the back end of a Dodgers bullpen that is down a few trusted members. Jimmy Nelson is out for the season, needing both Tommy John surgery and flexor tendon repair. Victor Gonzalez has suffered a drop off in performance this season and is currently on the injured list with a knee strain.
Joe Kelly was placed on the injured list, with no designation.
The Dodgers needed a 40-man spot to add Knebel, and the COVID-19 injured list doesn’t count against the 40-man, so it’s easy to do the math here. Per the collective bargaining agreement, teams cannot disclose such medical information without a player’s consent.
When asked the reason why Kelly was placed on the injured list, Roberts said Tuesday he could not comment.