The Phillies announced that they placed a reliever Corey Knebel on the 15-day injured list with a right lat strain. Bullpen friend Sam Coonrod returns from the 60-day IL to take Knebel’s spot on the active roster. To clear a spot on the 40-man for Coonrod, a recent waiver claim Andres Vasquez was appointed for a task.
An IL stint for Knebel seemed likely after the veteran left yesterday’s appearance due to the latter issue. The team announced that he was headed for an MRI last night, the results of which are still unclear. The imaging results will determine how long Knebel is on the shelf, but he will at least have to miss the next two weeks. A right lat strain cost Knebel more than three months with the Dodgers last season, though it’s currently unknown if his current issue is of similar severity. Signed to a one-year, $10MM deal during the offseason, the 30-year-old has a decent 3.43 ERA over 44 2/3 innings in a Phils uniform, though that comes with a personal-worst 21.1% strikeout rate.
To take Knebel’s bullpen spot, the Phils reinstate Coonrod to make his season debut. The hard-hitting right-hander was acquired by the Giants during the 2020-21 offseason and made 42 appearances during his debut campaign in Philadelphia. He posted a 4.04 ERA across 42 1/3 frames, striking out batters at a solid 25.9% clip while inducing a massive 57.1% ground ball percentage. Coupled with a fastball that averaged nearly 99 MPH, those outfields suggested Coonrod could have a chance to carve out a key high-powered role in 2022.
Instead, he missed the first four months of the season after straining his throwing shoulder during Spring Training. The 29-year-old has been on a rehab assignment since July 22, including seven appearances with Triple-A Lehigh Valley. He is now apparently healthy enough for a return, where he will add a powerful right-handed arm for interim manager Rob Thomson.
Vasquez did not make a major league appearance as a Phillie. Claimed off waivers by the Blue Jays on deadline day, he was immediately optioned to Lehigh Valley. He appeared four times with the IronPigs, allowing two runs (one earned) with three strikeouts and a walk. He also performed very well with Toronto’s top affiliate through the first few months of the season, allowing just three runs in 11 frames with a 15:2 strikeout-to-walk ratio inducing grounders on two-thirds of batted balls.
That didn’t carry over in his brief big league appearance with the Jays, as the 28-year-old surrendered six runs in 6 2/3 frames. This year’s nine MLB appearances match a career high for Vasquez, who has 13 1/3 career big league innings despite reaching the majors in four of the past five years. He’s performed pretty well in Triple-A over the last two years, however, with those numbers being pretty interesting, he’s bounced between four organizations in the past 12 months.
It’s possible Vasquez will change uniforms again soon, as he is scheduled to hit the waiver wire within the next few days. He is in his final minor league option year, so any claiming team could keep him in Triple-A for the rest of this season (although he would have to crack the Opening Day roster in 2023 or be removed from the 40-man roster). With Vasquez’s strong minor league work, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him land with another club looking for lefty bullpen depth.