Brewers reliever Knebel to determine status of right elbow Friday

MILWAUKEE, WI - OCTOBER 12:  Corey Knebel #46 of the Milwaukee Brewers pitches in the ninth inning of Game 1 of the NLCS against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Miller Park on Friday, October 12, 2018 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. (Photo by Alex Trautwig/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

MILWAUKEE — Corey Knebel will decide on Friday what to do about his ailing right elbow, potentially sidelining a key part of Milwaukee’s vaunted bullpen for the season.

The 27-year-old has a partially torn ulnar collateral ligament. He could have Tommy John surgery and then return at some point next year, or try to rehab the injury.

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“I’ve got all the cards on the table, and it’s just, ‘Which one?'” Knebel said before Milwaukee’s opener against St. Louis on Thursday. “It’s not really anybody’s decision but mine. But of course I’m going to talk to some of the doctors before I make a decision.”

Losing Knebel for the year could be a big blow for Milwaukee, which leaned on its bullpen in its run to the NL Championship Series last October.

Jeremy Jeffress, another hard-throwing reliever who made the All-Star team last year, also began the season on the injured list after he was slowed by a sore right shoulder during spring training. Bobby Wahl, acquired in a January trade with the New York Mets, is expected to miss all or most of the season with a knee injury.

Manager Craig Counsell said the run of injuries disrupted his bullpen plans.

“It’s undefined a little bit,” he said. “As injuries do, they kind of provide room for people to step up, provide opportunity, and make some unknowns. We’re going to have to work through that. It likely will change as we go.”

Milwaukee still has Josh Hader, who set a major league record for a left-handed reliever with 143 strikeouts in 81 1/3 innings last season. Jeffress pitched in an extended spring training game on Wednesday and could return by the end of April.

Knebel said he planned to see team physician Dr. William Raasch on Thursday and “go from there.” He also has visited Dr. Neal ElAttrache, the Dodgers’ team physician. Mets medical director Dr. David Altchek and Rangers team physician Dr. Keith Meister each looked at his scans.

“Whatever happens, I’ll be ready to go,” Knebel said. “That’s it. The not knowing is the tough part. Once the decision’s made, then it’ll be full go with whatever the decision is.”

Knebel had 16 saves and a 3.58 ERA last season, plus a sparkling 0.90 ERA in nine playoff appearances. He was an All-Star in 2017 with 39 saves and a 1.78 ERA in 76 innings.