For the past three seasons, Keone Kela has been an excellent pitcher for the Texas Rangers. He excels as a reliever as well as a closer. It’s possible that he may be working his way up to being moved to the starting rotation.
As we know, Kela was not on the Opening Day roster at the beginning of the season. It was said that his demotion was due to behavior issues. After three weeks of playing in the minors, Kela was called up to the majors. His 2017 debut against Oakland, he pitched one inning, allowing no hits and one strikeout. Kela went the entire season with no trouble, meaning he learned his lesson. The Texas Rangers are proud.
Kela is a great pitcher. Playing in 39 games this season, he finished 4-1 with two saves and eleven holds. He allowed only 12 runs on 18 hits this season. In his career, he only has three blown saves and 48 holds. Would it be a good idea for the Rangers to move Kela to the starting rotation in a year or two?
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That’s probably a maybe. While Kela dominates on the mound, his health is a cause for concern. In 2016, he missed three months due to an elbow injury and this season he had at least two stints on the disabled list. Both trips to the disabled list were in a span of five weeks.
As far as converting Kela into a starting pitcher goes, it’s not going to happen. Not for at least two years. Kela is in a comfortable position where he is now. The last thing Kela needs to is to have too much on his plate. For now, Kela is better off remaining in the bullpen where’s he’s continuing to learn and to improve. The 24-year-old talent has yet to be in his prime so there’s no need to rush.
The Rangers have a history of converting relievers into starters. A few times, that decision would turn out all right. Then again, a few times, it didn’t and Neftali Feliz is a perfect example of when it didn’t turn out good. Kela is one of the team’s best pitchers so they don’t want to lose him to any career-derailing injuries.