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Soria to DL; Crew going with 'pen by committee

Counsell says matchups will dictate bullpen usage
Special to MLB.com

ATLANTA -- With Thursday night's meltdown being the tip of what's been a rough stretch for Corey Knebel, the Brewers opted to temporarily remove him from the closer's role.

Behind Knebel, the likeliest option was probably Joakim Soria, who closed 16 games for the White Sox before being acquired by the Brewers. But he, too, was part of Thursday's loss, exiting early with an injury.

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ATLANTA -- With Thursday night's meltdown being the tip of what's been a rough stretch for Corey Knebel, the Brewers opted to temporarily remove him from the closer's role.

Behind Knebel, the likeliest option was probably Joakim Soria, who closed 16 games for the White Sox before being acquired by the Brewers. But he, too, was part of Thursday's loss, exiting early with an injury.

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Although the injury was described as mild, Soria landed on the 10-day disabled list Friday afternoon with a right thigh strain and was replaced on the roster by right-handed pitcher Adrian Houser.

Without Knebel or Soria, the Brewers don't have a solid plan for who will take the closer's role. Counsell indicated that he plans to play the matchups with Josh Hader, Jeremy Jeffress and Corbin Burnes taking the brunt of the innings, depending on the opposing lineup.

Video: SD@MIL: Soria leaves the game with an injury in 9th

"We'll have some ways we can go during the game, but nothing's going to be kind of set in stone, and we'll use them kind of to get outs," Counsell said. "However it plays with obviously Josh being a good guy to match up ... with certain parts of the lineup, and J.J. fitting in some other parts and Corbin fitting in some other parts. That's how we'll approach it."

Ideally, though, Counsell said that he would like to get Knebel back to a place where he can pitch the ninth, allowing Hader, Jeffress and Burnes to play the matchups in earlier innings.

This could be a stopgap fix, depending on Soria's injury. While the Brewers called the injury a right thigh strain, manager Craig Counsell said the injury was more in his groin. There's no timetable for his return, but the team plans to re-evaluate him in about a week.

"We're about 24 hours out, so we'll just treat it about a week and then maybe have a better idea," Counsell said.

Knebel will take Friday's opener off before the Brewers try to work him into some low-stress situations to try to rediscover his previous form.

"Relievers are difficult because the side work part of it, it's not easy to do because they're expected to be available," Counsell said. "We're going to have to try to put him into some easier situations, little easier situations and hope that we can correct some things, that he has the confidence to try some things in those situations rather than the bigger spots."

Williams could return Tuesday
Soreness in the pitching elbow is never an injury a team wants to see in a pitcher, but it seems that Taylor Williams may have avoided the worst. Despite landing on the disabled list earlier this month with a sore right elbow, it now appears that Williams is feeling good and may only miss the minimum 10 days.

"I think we'll get Taylor back after the weekend," Counsell said. "We're in good shape there. He's feeling really good."

It's still possible that Williams could go on a rehab assignment, but that has yet to be decided.

Cody Pace is a contributor to MLB.com based in Atlanta.

Milwaukee Brewers, Corey Knebel, Joakim Soria