Knebel, Colome earn Reliever of Month nods

Knebel, Colome earn Reliever of Month nods

Right-handers Corey Knebel of the Brewers and Alex Colome of the Rays, a pair of mainstays on teams trying to close ground on postseason berths, were named The Hartford National League and American League Relievers of the Month for August, respectively. The awards were announced on Sunday by Major League Baseball.

Knebel, named to the NL All-Star team earlier in this breakout campaign, was 13-for-13 in save conversions during the month to stretch his overall streak to 15. He made 15 appearances (15 1/3 innings) in August, and they were all scoreless, with 21 strikeouts and five walks. His 13 saves in August led all Major League relievers, and of special note, two of them came on Players Weekend, as the Brewers won a big series at Dodger Stadium.

Knebel earns NL Reliever honors

Through August, Knebel also led all Major League relievers with 106 strikeouts and ranked third with a 14.98 K/9 ratio in 63 2/3 innings. He easily surpassed Julio Machado's 1991 club record (98) for most strikeouts by a reliever in a season.

That milestone happened on a 99.1-mph four-seamer to whiff Mike Tauchman for the final out on Aug. 20 at Colorado. Earlier in the season, Knebel had set a Major League record by recording at least one strikeout in 45 consecutive appearances (April 3 to July 15), passing the mark of Hall of Famer Bruce Sutter (39 games in 1977). Knebel had two career saves entering this season, both in 2016.

"This year, 2017, has been a crazy year so far," Knebel said after breaking Machado's record. "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."

It has been an emotional year for Knebel. The Brewers entered Sunday 1 1/2 games behind Colorado in the chase for a second NL Wild Card spot. In addition to his All-Star selection, he is expecting to become a first-time father very soon. On the other end of the spectrum, Knebel is a Texas native (Denton), and he is supporting relief efforts after Hurricane Harvey.

Colome, the Major League saves leader (41), was 10-for-10 in conversions in August. His final one of the month was his 40th save of the season, and he is attempting to become the first pitcher in Rays history to lead the Majors in that category. He is on pace for 48 saves, which would tie Fernando Rodney's club record set in 2012. Colome became the sixth reliever in Rays history to record a 40-save season, joining Brad Boxberger (41 in '15), Rodney, Rafael Soriano (45 in '10), Danys Baez (41 in '05) and Roberto Hernandez (43 in 1999).

"I feel very happy and excited that I got the opportunity to do [that] this season,'' Colome said after recording No. 40. "It's not every day that someone gets 40 saves, and I'm just glad to be part of it.''

Tampa Bay entered Sunday four games out in the AL Wild Card race, and the bullpen is going to be a key reason if the Rays claim a berth. The club's ERA in August was 2.52, fourth-best in MLB behind the Angels (2.18), Brewers (2.45) and Astros (2.51). Colome is a key reason, as is the arrival of veterans Steve Cishek, Sergio Romo and Dan Jennings in the days leading up to the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline.

Colome locks down the save

Dating back to the 2016 All-Star break, Colome closed August leading the Majors with 58 saves, ahead of Kenley Jansen (55) and Roberto Osuna (53). Rays manager Kevin Cash has raved about his closer's team-first approach, noting the multiple-inning efforts required earlier this year. Colome endured a rough stretch in the middle of the season, but his cool composure has carried him through adversity on the mound.

The award is an extension of MLB's partnership with The Hartford, which annually presents the Mariano Rivera AL Reliever of the Year Award and the Trevor Hoffman NL Reliever of the Year Award. The winners are determined by a panel of industry experts.

Mark Newman is enterprise editor of and a baseball writer since 1990. Follow him @Marathoner and read and join other baseball fans on his hub. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.