It's been an ugly few days for the Detroit Tigers on the scoreboard, but even worse with regards to pitching depth. Thanks in part to that, the team added a reinforcement quick on Thursday afternoon.
Corey Knebel, the 39th pick in the 2013 draft out of the University of Texas, is coming up to the big club to help a stressed out bullpen. Starter Robbie Ray, who pitched well in a bit part role during the blister absence of Anibal Sanchez, heads back to Toledo in turn and has nothing to be ashamed of.
It's a major step for Knebel, who Brad Ausmus admitted Thursday afternoon was in the discussion for making the roster out of spring training thanks to excellent camp performance. Concerns about age and experience won out, though, helping pave the way for him to get a bit more seasoning at the minor league level.
Since then, Knebel has been a fast riser, progressing quickly through AA Erie to AAA Toledo, dominating along the way. Through May 20, Knebel had pitched in three games for the Mud Hens without allowing a run while walking one, striking out four and collecting one hold.
That's precisely the kind of thing the Tigers hope he'll be able to do just as fast at the major league level. Entering Friday night's game, an overworked bullpen had nowhere else to turn. Add to that the pending legal situation with Evan Reed, and Detroit had two potential fires to put out with one move.
With Knebel in the fold, Detroit now has a few options to turn to late in the game, given Joba Chamberlain's emergence and Al Alburquerque's usual steadiness. Likely, Ausmus will want to waste no time seeing what the young man has in a high-pressure situation.
If Knebel's performances at every other stop are any indication, his road to the major leagues might now only travel I-75 between Detroit and Toledo.
Max DeMara is the editor of @tigers_101. Follow the site there on Twitter, or like it on Facebook to connect with him.
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