Keone Kela appears to be back on track
Entering the season the Pirates figured to have one of the best bullpen back end duos in all of baseball in Keone Kela and Felipe Vazquez. From the get go this season Vazquez has been dominant as you would expect. Kela, however, got off a to a rockier start.
Through is first 8 appearances of the season Kela owned a 8.10 ERA and a 7.91 FIP. In these 8 appearances he pitched 6 2/3 innings and racked up 8 strikeouts, but the major issue was that he had allowed a trio of long balls. After this slow start, Kela has found his shut down form once again.
On Tuesday night Kela pitched a scoreless bottom of the 9th inning in his return to Texas. This made it 5 consecutive scoreless appearances for Kela. In these 5 appearances, he’s allowed just a pair of singles, a walk, and he’s struck out 3.
Most importantly, Kela’s nasty curveball appears to be back. Early in the season Kela was struggling with control of his curve and it appeared he was battling a release point issue. Well, Kela and pitching coach Ray Searage appear to have fixed this issue. In his last 5 appearances, especially the previous 3, his curve has had wicked break.
Getting Kela back on track was vital for not just the bullpen but the team as a whole. Especially with Nick Burdi on the IL and Richard Rodriguez continuing to struggle. Luckily, it appears Kela has righted the ship from his early season struggles.