Fantasy Baseball: Closing Arguments – Keone Kela

Rangers Keone Kela

Welcome back to another round of closing arguments where I look at the fantasy baseball landscape, focus on relief pitching. Much like Irish War Cry (RIP) we have started strong out of the gate. The fantasy baseball season is long, too long really. So you have to change things up or your soul will be crushed. Or maybe you’ll just get bored, and finish in last place. Well you shouldn’t get bored here. Today’s edition is going to be slightly different.

We are going for a moderately deep dive on one player in particular, Keone Kela. First let’s look at the closer list as always. Changes from the past week are listed in bold type. 

American League

Baltimore Zach Britton
Boston Craig Kimbrel
New York Yankees Aroldis Chapman
Tampa Bay Alex Colome
Toronto Roberto Osuna
Chicago White Sox David Robertson
Cleveland Cody Allen
Detroit Francisco Rodriguez
Kansas City Kelvin Herrera
Minnesota Brandon Kintzler
Houston Ken Giles
Los Angeles Angeles Jose Alvarez (not official CL)
Oakland Ryan Madson (not official CL)
Seattle Edwin Diaz
Texas Matt Bush (official CL)

National League

Atlanta Jim Johnson
Miami A.J. Ramos
New York Mets J. Familia
Philadelphia Hector Neris (OFFICIAL SOLO CL)
Washington Shawn Kelley (not offical CL)
Chicago Cubs Wade Davis
Cincinnati Raisel Iglesias (not official CL)
Milwaukee Neftali Feliz
Pittsburgh Tony Watson
St. Louis Seung Hwan Oh
Arizona Fernando Rodney
Colorado Greg Holland
Los Angeles Dodgers Kenley Jansen
San Diego Brandon Maurer
San Francisco Mark Melancon

*Note the closer list was updated on March 5, 2017 due to scheduling conflicts.  

Orioles Zach Britton

Rick Osentoski – USA TODAY Sports

I have some administrative notes to cover first. Zach Britton is back on the DL. Bud Norris is not the top name in the Angels bullpen, yet he is still closing. Hector Neris finally got the solo CL tag for the Phillies. Shawn Kelley went on the DL. I wonder what Papelbon is doing these days. Fantasy baseball is fun!

About the strong start I mentioned earlier. We have suggested adding Rosenthal and Norris to your teams, if the situation allowed. Both continue to pitch well, though it looks like Rosenthal is topping out at a shared closer’s role with Oh. Norris’ ownership more than double since the time we published the content suggesting to add him. Closing Arguments bump? I doubt it very much. Most likely one of the bigger sites suggested the same move.

Keone Kela is today’s subject. He is presently hovering around 1% ownership on Yahoo. That should probably be a little higher. Kela is a relief pitcher for the Texas Rangers.  He did get hit pretty hard in a mid-week outing recently. I am still buying. He is more of a target in keeper leagues, AL Only, or deep mixed leagues. Someone already scooped him up in the Fake Pigskin staff league.

Ok so what does this Kela kid bring to the table? Well he is the prototypical future closer, throws right handed, high strikeout rate, and brings the heat. According to Fangraphs, Keone Kela’s fastball averages 96.2mph this year. Wow. Ok that is great but where is he in the order?

Relief Pitching generally falls into categories / roles such as:

Closer – 9th Inning

Setup – 8th Inning

7th Inning guy

Long Relief (guy who enters the game in the 5th when Harvey’s arm falls off)

Specialist (comes in often for < 1 IP)

Arms (the bench of relief pitching)

The www.mlb.com depth chart of team’s bullpens are often listed in a similar order as I have it above. That being said coaches are coaches, so sometimes the order is meaningless.

All of this is background to say, Kela is currently listed last on the bullpen. Normally this is the least talented player and the most likely to be optioned back or DFA’d when roster space is needed. Or it could be the player is simply in the doghouse. Upon researching this article I found this nugget from Rotoworld that stated Kela was really ticking off teammates in the final weeks of Spring Training.

I remember being stunned when he didn’t break camp with the Rangers. This explains that move. So it is obligatory to say Kela has an uphill challenge because now he has to win back his coaches and/or teammates trust and stuff. He pitched yesterday in the 7th inning of what would become a blowout game and only faced two batters.  I didn’t see the game, so I can’t comment fully on how he was used. It looks like he came in for a high-leverage spot, and underperformed. Kela is a young man, 24 years old, I view this as simply growing pains. It must be stated that he could be sent back down especially if the attitude adjustment doesn’t take place. I would still hold onto him even if does head back to Round Rock.

There is no arguing the talent. Per MLB, Kela has pitched 103 innings in the show, and he has 123 strikeouts. This season Kela has not pitched much, and as I mentioned he got roughed up. So he is currently sitting on an ERA over 6 on the smallest of samples. There going to be bumpy patches along the way. Now is the time to buy in. Keone Kela has all the makings of a future dominant closer. In the interim, he will help your fantasy baseball team with strikeouts, holds, and good ratios.

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