#MLBPlayers411 | Corey Knebel
One of the main reasons the Brewers are within striking distance of an NL Wild Card berth entering the final few weeks has been the emergence of 25-year-old Corey Knebel as their closer.
In May, Milwaukee manager Craig Counsell installed the hard-throwing right-hander with the quirky motion as the team's closer, taking over for Neftali Feliz, and never looked back.
Using an upper ‘90s fastball and becoming ever more comfortable using his sharp-dropping curve, Knebel has struck out 41.3 percent of the batters he's faced and converted 32-of-36 save opportunities this season.
Overall, the right hander carries a 1.38 earned run average, while opponents are hitting just .168 with 109 strikeouts.
“He has had more than a nice season,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell recently told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “He has had a tremendous season. He earned an all-star bid, and since that he has been, if possible, even better. He has been lights-out, he really has. He has really taken a big step forward, as much as any player on our roster. He's a guy that's taken maybe the biggest step forward. It has been fun to watch.”
Knebel, who was named to his first All-Star Game this season, is fourth among MLB closers in wins above replacement (WAR), according to Fangraphs. He set a single-season record with at least one strikeout in 45 consecutive appearances. Bruce Sutter previously held the record with strikeouts in 39 straight games for the 1977 Cubs.
Knebel attended the University of Texas at Austin, where he closed for three seasons and racked up 37 saves, second in school history behind current major leaguer Huston Street.
Before joining the Brewers, the Denton, Texas, native had stints in the Rangers' and Tigers' minor-league systems. In 94 total minor-league games, Knebel went 9-4 with 26 saves and a 1.99 ERA. He struck out 146 batters, compared to just 43 walks.
He was named the NL's Reliever of the Month for August, and prior to Wednesday night, Knebel had gone 19 straight games without allowing a run. He has already set a franchise strikeout record for relievers in a single season, passing Julio Machado, who had 98 in 1991.
"This year, 2017, has been a crazy year so far," Knebel told MLB.com. "Especially me personally, it's been a wild year. There's been a lot going on. Just kind of an honor that it's all kind of happening right now. [I'm] just along for the ride."
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