Texas Rangers: Has Keone Kela Earned The Closer Role?

ARLINGTON, TX - JUNE 21: Keone Kela (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
ARLINGTON, TX - JUNE 21: Keone Kela (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images) /

The Rangers bullpen has been disappointing this season, but there are some positives to take away. The emergence of reliever Keone Kela has been fantastic. Has Kela done enough to earn himself the closer role?

It’s difficult to determine who will be the next closer in Alrington. The Texas Rangers continue to burn themselves when picking closers. In the beginning of the season Sam Dyson was the “closer” and we all saw how that ended.

After that the organization went with hard-throwing Matt Bush as closer. It worked in the short-term, but then quickly collapsed. He converted 10 of 15 saves and was put back into a much more comfortable middle relief role.

The team is now going with closer by committee, but might not be for long. Lefty Alex Claudio has converted 5 of 7 save chances. He’s done well in that role, but this could be another Dyson/Bush situation.

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While Claudio has done well in the role it’s hard to imagine that being a long-term solution. He’s the best left-handed reliever on the roster. The Rangers are much better off going with Keone Kela as closer.

This season Kela is 4-1 with a 2.36 ERA in 34 games with 46 strikeouts. Opposing batters are hitting just .128 off Kela this season. That is by far the best opposing batting average of Rangers pitchers.

Right now has the best WHIP on the team as well just 0.90 this season. It’s surprising the Rangers have not promoted Kela yet. He’s been by far the best reliever on the team, and could have a future in the closer role.

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This is not the first time Kela has performed this well at the MLB level. In 2015 he went 7-5 with a 2.39 ERA in 68 games with 68 strikeouts. While Claudio has performed well in the short-term, Kela could be the answer long-term.