Pittsburgh Pirates Shutdown Keone Kela’s Rehab Assignment
By Marty Leap
It appears the Pittsburgh Pirates will continue to be without a key member of their bullpen for a bit longer
Two months into the 2019 season injuries have been the biggest story for the Pittsburgh Pirates. The team has been forced to place a Major League leading 22 players on the injured list this season. This is certainly one category that you do not want to lead baseball in.
One these players is reliever Keone Kela. Entering the season Kela figured to be a key member of what looked to be one of the National League’s best bullpens. Unfortunately, that has not been the case.
Last weekend Kela started a rehab stint with Triple-A Indianapolis. After pitching an inning for the Indians on Saturday night, Kela joined the Pirates in Cincinnati and appeared close to coming off the IL. However, his body had other ideas.
After throwing a bullpen session in Pittsburgh on Thursday, his shoulder pain returned. Due to this, the team will now shut him down from throwing for 10 days and then they will re-evaluate where he is at.
Prior to going on the IL Kela owned a 4.63 ERA, 5.63 FIP, and a 22.0% strikeout rate in 11 2/3 innings pitched. After a slow start to the season, however, Kela was starting to turn things around before getting injured.
In his final six outings before going on the IL, Kela had pitched 5 scoreless innings. He allowed three hits, walked one, and struck out three in these 5 innings of work. Also, after appearing to battle a release point issue earlier in the season his sharp curveball appeared to be back in those outings.
The most concerning part about Kela’s shoulder is that this has become a lingering issue. Last season, Kela missed most of September after being shutdown with a shoulder issue. Now, those shoulder issue appear to have carried over into 2019.
With Kela on the shelf, the Pirates will continue to search for relievers to go with Francisco Liriano, Kyle Crick, and Felipe Vazquez. Outside of those three pitchers, the Pirates lack reliable relievers right now. The Kela injured, paired with an injury to Nick Burdi and the implosion of Richard Rodriguez have put the Pirate bullpen in rough shape.