MILWAUKEE -- An 8-0 loss to the Cubs hurt. Losing All-Star closer Corey Knebel hurt a whole lot more.
The Brewers placed Knebel on the 10-day disabled list on Friday with a strained left hamstring suffered in the ninth inning Thursday night as Knebel was merely logging an inning of work in a lopsided loss. He collapsed on the mound after throwing a two-out pitch to Thomas La Stella and had to be helped off the field by a pair of Brewers athletic trainers.
Before the Brewers' clubhouse opened to reporters, manager Craig Counsell told MLB Network Radio that Knebel would be sidelined a minimum of six weeks.
"It's one game and it's a tough loss and all that," said Brewers starter Brent Suter, "but prayers are going out for Corey and his well-being. He's in some pain right now."
The Brewers called up reliever Adrian Houser, their No. 13 prospect according to MLB Pipeline, for Friday's 7:10 p.m. CT game, when rookie Brandon Woodruff makes his first start of the season following two relief appearances. Houser made his Major League debut for the Brewers in 2015 but missed the second half of the 2016 season in the Minors and most of 2017 after undergoing Tommy John surgery. He re-established himself late last season with a strong showing in the Arizona Fall League.
The Brewers were in a 6-0 deficit when they called for Knebel, who needed work after not appearing in any of the Brewers' previous four games. Knebel hit Javier Baez with a pitch before Jason Heyward launched a two-run home run to extend the lead. After Knebel struck out Ian Happ, the right-hander fell behind pinch-hitter La Stella, 1-0. Knebel went down on the next pitch, a check-swing strike.
Knebel hit the dirt and grabbed his left hamstring. As he was helped off the field, he was unable to put any weight on that leg.
"I didn't see anything in terms of his landing that seemed different," said Suter, who was watching from a television in the training room. "It just looked like his hamstring popped or something. I don't know, but it's not good news."
Utility man Hernan Perez completed the at-bat against La Stella, inducing a fly out on one pitch to end the inning. Perez became the first Brewers position player to pitch at home since Joe Inglett on July 27, 2010.
In a somber clubhouse, Suter was not the only teammate who expressed concern for Knebel, who took over as Brewers closer last May and made the National League All-Star team. He finished the year with 39 saves and a 1.78 ERA in 79 appearances while setting a franchise record for a reliever with 126 strikeouts.
"That was tough," said fellow reliever Jacob Barnes. "No one wants to see that happen, especially in that type of game when he's just trying to get some work. It was not fun to watch. Obviously, we can only hope for the best with that."
Barnes pitched two more scoreless innings Thursday and has not been scored upon in six innings over four games this season. He's one of the many candidates who could be called upon to close, along with the Brewers' former closer, Jeremy Jeffress, and veterans Matt Albers or Dan Jennings.
The Brewers' most electric reliever is left-hander Josh Hader, though he is in his first full season as a relief pitcher and has not logged a save since 2015 in Double-A.
"We'll figure that out," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. "I haven't thought about that."
Said Barnes: "We're going to have to figure out a way to do it. ... We're going to have to all step up, offensively and defensively, pitchers, everyone is going to have to step up more. Everyone saw what [Knebel] did last year."