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Phillies interim manager Rob Thomson will stick with struggling closer Corey Knebel

Knebel had three blown saves and a 5.68 ERA in his last 13 appearances entering Tuesday's game.

Phillies pitcher Corey Knebel  during the game against the San Francisco Giants on May 30.
Phillies pitcher Corey Knebel during the game against the San Francisco Giants on May 30.Read moreYONG KIM / Staff Photographer

MILWAUKEE — A managerial change won’t be followed by a closer change for the Phillies.

Entering play Tuesday night, Corey Knebel had allowed at least one run in three of his last four outings — part of a 13-appearance stretch in which he has a 5.68 ERA and three blown saves. But he isn’t in danger of being removed from the closer role.

“I still have strong confidence in him. I really do,” interim manager Rob Thomson said before the Phillies opened a three-game series against the Milwaukee Brewers. “He’s got a track record of being really good.”

Much of that track record was built in Milwaukee. Knebel had a breakthrough season in 2017, with a 1.78 ERA and 39 saves for a Brewers team that finished second in the National League Central. He recorded 16 saves in 2018 but was displaced as closer midway through the season by Josh Hader.

Over the next two years, Knebel had various injuries, including a torn elbow ligament that necessitated Tommy John surgery. He was effective as a setup man late last season for the Los Angeles Dodgers, leading the Phillies to sign him to a one-year, $10 million contract to close games again.

Knebel didn’t allow an earned run in his first six appearances for the Phillies and had a 0.96 ERA and four saves through April. His struggles began in a May 5 meltdown at home against the New York Mets.

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Since then, Knebel has allowed eight earned runs on 13 hits, including two homers, and eight walks in 12⅔ innings.

“I think every reliever goes through something,” Thomson said. “Mariano Rivera went through bad stretches. Nobody talks about that anymore, but he did. I still have a lot of confidence in [Knebel].”

If Thomson does decide to make a change, the Phillies have internal options to handle the ninth inning. Left-hander Brad Hand, who has 127 career saves, hadn’t allowed a run in 9⅔ innings over 13 appearances entering the series in Milwaukee.

But the most desirable option may be Seranthony Domínguez. After missing most of the last 2½ seasons while recovering from elbow surgery, his average fastball velocity was back up to 97 mph, while his sinker was as devastating as ever.

“When he has that,” Thomson said, “he’s filthy.”

Thomson prefers Hand and Domínguez as the primary seventh- and eighth-inning options. But his confidence in Domínguez, in particular, is clear. Asked if he would consider using his closer — Knebel, for now — in the eighth inning against the top of the order, a la Mets manager Buck Showalter last weekend, Thomson said he would.

“But you’ve got Seranthony out there, too,” he said. “He’s a pretty good matchup against stars at the top of the order, too.”

Special delivery

The Phillies placed Zack Wheeler on the paternity list after the ace right-hander’s wife, Dominique, gave birth to a baby girl Tuesday morning.

» READ MORE: Joe Girardi struggled to trust the Phillies’ young players. Will Rob Thomson be any different?

Wheeler was scheduled to start Friday night at home against the Arizona Diamondbacks, but will instead throw a bullpen session Thursday and start Saturday, according to Thomson. Kyle Gibson will start Friday night on normal rest.

Extra bases

Among the people who texted congratulations to Thomson last week: Toronto Maple Leafs great Dave Keon, a Hockey Hall of Famer and one of Thomson’s sports idols growing up in Canada. ... The Phillies were among the teams that scouted free-agent reliever Trevor Rosenthal’s showcase, a source said, confirming an NBC Sports Philadelphia report. Rosenthal, 32, didn’t pitch last year after hip surgery. He had a 1.90 ERA and 11 saves between Kansas City and San Diego in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season. ... The Phillies named low-A infielder Hao Yu Lee and high-A right-hander Ben Brown as their Minor League Player and Pitcher of the Month, respectively, for May. ... Aaron Nola (3-4, 3.92 ERA) will start Wednesday night against Brewers right-hander Adrian Houser (3-5, 3.51). Nola blanked the Brewers for seven innings at home on April 24.