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Knebel selected to first All-Star Game

Brewers' hard-throwing closer leads Major League relievers in strikeouts
MLB.com @AdamMcCalvy

MILWAUKEE -- Life moves fast in Major League Baseball. A year ago, Corey Knebel was in the Minor Leagues after being demoted in the wake of an oblique injury. On Sunday, he was a National league All-Star in the middle of a record-setting season.

Knebel was the lone Brewers player named to the Midsummer Classic when rosters were released Sunday. He learned the news in front of the whole team in a morning meeting.

MILWAUKEE -- Life moves fast in Major League Baseball. A year ago, Corey Knebel was in the Minor Leagues after being demoted in the wake of an oblique injury. On Sunday, he was a National league All-Star in the middle of a record-setting season.

Knebel was the lone Brewers player named to the Midsummer Classic when rosters were released Sunday. He learned the news in front of the whole team in a morning meeting.

"It felt great. I was honored. Thrilled," Knebel said. "A lot of good things happening today."

:: Complete All-Star Game coverage ::

Indeed it was a banner day for 25-year-old Knebel and wife Danielle, who also learned they will have a baby girl in November. The couple shared the news via social media Sunday morning, and the All-Star nod came 30 minutes later.

"What a day," Knebel said. "I've been saying all [year] I'm on Cloud 9, but I don't know where I am now. I'm really excited."

• Knebel reveals gender of first child

Video: Knebel talks about making his first All-Star Game

A year ago, he was someplace else. Knebel opened the 2016 season on the disabled list and struggled upon his return, so the Brewers optioned him to Triple-A Colorado Springs. He reasserted his role during the second half and has broken through this year, ascending to closer duty after Neftali Feliz faltered, and Knebel has become one of the best strikeout pitchers in baseball. Knebel leads Major League relievers with 68 strikeouts. He is third in the Majors and tops in the NL with 15.43 strikeouts per nine innings.

Along the way, Knebel broke a 40-year old strikeout record. He has at least one whiff in 40 straight appearances this season, breaking the mark set by Hall of Famer Bruce Sutter with the Cubs in 1977. Dating to last year, Knebel has a strikeout in 41 straight games, eight shy of Aroldis Chapman's all-time record spanning seasons.

"He was fortunate in the fact that he had some adversity last year," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. "He had an injury. Back down to the Minor Leagues. He had to kind of get over that a little bit. I think, in the end, it was good for him that he went through that, and I think that's all kind of led to him coming to spring this year in a place where a little something to prove, really.

"Nothing taken for granted. Nothing guaranteed. Knowing he did have an opportunity to prove something, and really did. Just to solidify himself and solidify a role, and he's done all that."

Knebel has 13 saves. He was especially looking forward to sharing the field again with Red Sox closer Craig Kimbrel, whom Knebel admires.

"This time last year, I got sent down to Triple-A. It was kind of a reality check," Knebel said. "I came off the DL and worked hard to get off and stay healthy. I didn't have a year that I wanted to. I went into the off-season and told myself this isn't going to happen. I didn't want to mess around anymore."

Now that the bulk of both league's rosters are official, fans can cast ballots for the 2017 Esurance MLB All-Star Game Final Vote on MLB.com, Club sites and their mobile devices until 4 p.m. ET on Thursday. The winners, as chosen exclusively by online fan voting totals, will then be announced during "MLB Tonight" live on MLB Network and MLB.com at 6 p.m. Extensive coverage throughout the Final Vote will be provided by MLB Network and MLB.com, including interviews with the candidates, frequent updates, heat maps indicating where votes are being cast for each candidate, news on player and club campaigns, and a running countdown clock leading up to the announcement.

Now in its 16th season, with more than 680 million votes cast, the Final Vote again will include social votes on the last day of balloting, as Twitter support for the 10 candidates over the final six hours of balloting will count toward their vote totals. From 10 a.m.-4 p.m. ET on Thursday, any tweet that includes a designated player hashtag will be tabulated as part of the official vote total used to determine the winners.

On Tuesday, July 11, at 7:30 p.m. ET, tune in to the 2017 All-Star Game presented by Mastercard live on FOX, and during the game visit MLB.com to submit your choice for the Ted Williams Most Valuable Player Award presented by Chevrolet via the 2017 MLB All-Star Game MVP Vote. The 88th All-Star Game, in Miami, will be televised nationally by FOX, in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and RDS, and worldwide by partners in more than 160 countries via MLB International's independent feed. ESPN Radio and ESPN Radio Deportes will provide national radio coverage of the All-Star Game. MLB.com, MLB Network and SiriusXM will also provide comprehensive All-Star Week coverage. For more information, please visit allstargame.com.

Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy, like him on Facebook and listen to his podcast.

Milwaukee Brewers, Corey Knebel