StaTuesday: New closer Knebel racks up Ks
The Milwaukee Brewers have a new closer and appropriately his last name begins with a K.
Manager Craig Counsell finally pulled the trigger over the weekend, moving Neftali Feliz and his $5.35 million in guaranteed money out of the role after the veteran right-hander allowed his fifth home run of the season.
Just days after shrugging off suggestions that setup man Corey Knebel might be the answer, Counsell did an abrupt about face Sunday.
Feliz pitched the eighth -- surrendering two hits and a run -- while Knebel trotted to the mound to close out the New York Mets.
It was Knebel's first save attempt of the season and second appearance after the eighth inning, and he didn't disappoint.
The 25-year-old reliever racked up another strikeout while retiring all three Mets batters to secure an 11-9 win and a series sweep for the Brewers.
On Monday in San Diego, Knebel struck out the side in the ninth inning, stretching his streak of consecutive relief appearances with a "K" to 22 games (dating back to last year) -- which broke a Brewers record by a reliever. Chris Bosio back in 1986-87 and John Axford in 2010-11 both had streaks of 21 games with at least one whiff.
It's more of the same for Knebel, who has surrendered just 11 hits and allowed two earned runs this season while facing 78 batters, and ranks as one of the league's top relievers six weeks into the regular season.
Knebel has 33 strikeouts against just nine walks this season. While he's always been a strikeout pitcher, Knebel has upped his game in 2017. In his first three seasons in the majors (two with the Brewers and eight games with Detroit in 2014), Knebel averaged 10.5 strikeouts per nine innings.
This season he's up to 14.9 per 9. If he keeps it up, it will be the best rate in Brewers history. Only six Milwaukee pitchers have averaged better than 12 strikeouts per nine innings (min. 20 innings).
In case you were wondering, Aroldis Chapman holds the single-season record of 17.67 K/9 in 2014. Knebel's 14.85 would be 18th all-time.