Pittsburgh Pirates: Three Relievers to Watch This Spring

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Pittsburgh Pirates
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The last pitcher had a little bit of a different path than the other two relievers mentioned.  Keone Kela did in fact pitch a good part of 2019 and missed some time with shoulder fatigue, nothing that required a surgery or a large amount of time off.  In addition, he had some other issues off the field that led to him missing some time due to suspensions and such, which makes him a perfect candidate to watch this spring.

The Pittsburgh Pirates acquired Keone Kela at the 2018 Trade Deadline from the Texas Rangers.  At the time he was the Rangers closer but came to Pittsburgh viewed as the setup man.  Kela had a rough start to his 2019 campaign.  He pitched in 13 games through March and April and saw his ERA at an uncharacteristically high 4.63.  This obviously was not a good start for a big-time trade acquisition.  That is when he was placed on the Injured List with should fatigue, once again showing that his performance was being affected by an injury.

When Kela came back full-time, he showed exactly what the Pittsburgh Pirates thought they were getting in the hard-throwing reliever.  He was dominant in the second half of the season, pitching to a 0.50 ERA in 18 games and 18 innings.  Furthermore, he was generating a lot of swings and misses, sitting down 22 batters.  Overall, his numbers were quite impressive, earning a 2.12 ERA with 33 strikeouts in a minimal 29.1 innings.

With the arrest of former All-Star closer Felipe Vazquez, Keone Kela figures to be the lead candidate for the closer job this upcoming season.  Also, his injury was said to be bothering him during his 2019 spring training, so hopefully he does not have any setbacks this spring.  Now that the coaching staff has been changed over, there should be a new expectation in how things are handled in the locker room.  Hopefully, Kela will not have any issues like he did last year.