Corey Knebel finding bad luck early in career

Reliever Corey Knebel delivers a pitch against the Toronto Blue Jays. - Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Corey Knebel hasn't been perfect out of the gate, but if you wait, the results will come.

Detroit Tigers reliever Corey Knebel's ERA currently sits at 7.94. But that's not an accurate indicator of how well the 22-year-old rookie has pitched. Advanced stats tell a different story.

While Knebel’s fielding independent pitching (FIP) is a low 2.02, his expected FIP is slightly higher at 3.17 because that stat includes a 10.5 percent home-run rate on fly balls and Knebel has yet to allow his first major league home run.

FIP has been kind to Knebel, while ERA hasn't. Knebel is striking out 9.53 batters per nine innings while allowing just 3.18 walks per nine. But while these numbers align nicely with his minor league figures, it would have been unrealistic to expect a similar ERA in the major leagues, despite posting marks of 1.20 and 0.00 in Double-A and Triple-A, respectively, earlier this year.

Knebel has given up hits at the worst possible times, too. He is only stranding half of all runners after stranding more than 80 percent of runners in the minor leagues. The MLB average for that stat is between 70 and 72 percent annually according to Fangraphs.

Batting average on balls in play is more often used for hitters than pitchers, but Knebel’s has nearly doubled after his promotion. The obvious question is then whether Knebel is giving up harder-hit contact now that he is facing major league hitters, but it appears that that’s not the case. In Knebel’s 115 major league pitches, 69 of which have been strikes compared to 46 balls, Knebel has induced 11 ground balls, five fly balls, and just three line drives. It looks like the ground balls are just finding holes.

Tigers fans will forever worry about the bullpen, but they can direct their anxiety elsewhere when it comes to Knebel.  As the second player from the 2013 draft class to make it to the major leagues, he is still young and will not yet be counted on to pitch in late innings.

Knebel, however, has the background to pitch those late innings eventually. He was an All-American after a freshman year at Texas where he tied Huston Street’s school record for saves in a year with 19.

Once Rondon recovers from Tommy John surgery, he and Knebel could be a staple at the back end of the bullpen in years to come.

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior users will need to choose a permanent username, along with a new password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

I already have a Vox Media account!

Verify Vox Media account

Please login to your Vox Media account. This account will be linked to your previously existing Eater account.

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior MT authors will need to choose a new username and password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join Bless You Boys

You must be a member of Bless You Boys to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Bless You Boys. You should read them.

Join Bless You Boys

You must be a member of Bless You Boys to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Bless You Boys. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.

tracking_pixel_9351_tracker