The Rangers have seen two different versions of Keone Kela. He was an elite pitcher in 2015, but saw little success during the 2016 season. Kela’s ability and potential make him the X Factor in the Texas bullpen in 2017.
Somehow Keone Kela has been buried in the depth of the Texas Rangers bullpen. After his outstanding rookie season Kela fizzled out and struggled last season. He got lost in the mix, but could emerge as an important pitcher for the Rangers in 2017.
Kela recently made his spring debut pitching one inning and striking out two batters. It’s a small sample size, but a step in the right direction for Kela. If he can get his confidence back then the Rangers could have a deadly bullpen.
In 2015 Kela posted a 2.38 ERA in 68 games with 68 strikeouts. He quickly rose to the top of the Texas bullpen, but his sophomore slump season in 2016 set him back. Kela pitched in 35 games last season posting a 6.09 ERA.
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The good news is that he didn’t lose his ability to strikeout batters. Kela’s swing and miss stuff is part of the reason he was successful in 2015. He finished with an ERA over 6, but still managed to strikeout 45 batters.
His command was the issue walking 17 batters in just 34 innings. It would be difficult for any pitcher to be successful when they walk that many hitters. Besides the lack of command Kela’s stats look worse than his actual performance on the mound.
Having a good performance in Spring Training can go a long way for Kela’s success in 2017. He has the potential and ability to be a possible closer in the Major Leagues. He just needs to be healthy and regain his confidence. Expect Keone Kela to be a force in the Rangers bullpen in 2017.