The Milwaukee Brewers have been a bit of a surprise, sitting two games over .500. However, despite that success, their closer situation has left a bit to be desired.
Neftali Feliz was expected to be a rental player, at best, for the Milwaukee Brewers. With Milwaukee seemingly a year or two away from contending, the hope was that Feliz would do a respectable job as the closer, and then bring in a couple of prospects. As he seemingly found his form again in Pittsburgh in 2016, posting a 3.52 ERA and a 1.137 WHiP while striking out over ten batters per nine innings, it was a worthwhile gamble.
However, two things have happened this year to change those plans. First, the Brewers have been better than expected, sitting two games over .500 heading into today’s action. Second, Feliz has been an adventure as a closer, posting a 0-4 record with a 6.19 ERA and a 1.313 WHiP. Although he has saved eight of nine games, Feliz has also issued nine walks with just 13 strikeouts in 16 innings. Something needed to happen, and it has, with manager Craig Counsell saying that Feliz is getting a break from the closer role.
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Counsell on closer situation, “We’re going to give Neftali Feliz a break back there and get him right. Corey Knebel has been outstanding”
This move may not be temporary. For as much as Feliz has struggled this season, Corey Knebel has been equally impressive. In his 18 innings, Knebel has a 1.00 ERA and a 1.000 WHiP, issuing eight walks while striking out 29 batters. He is also under team control until 2022, potentially giving the Brewers a long term answer at the closer position.
A move from the closer role may still be beneficial for Feliz and the Brewers. If he can find his form again in a setup role, Feliz could still prove to be a valuable piece in the Milwaukee bullpen. Or, if the Brewers falter heading into the trade deadline, and Feliz is pitching well, he could still be flipped for a decent prospect.