Phillies should pursue Keone Kela to improve bullpen

Keone Kela (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)
Keone Kela (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images) /
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Hector Neris #50 of the Philadelphia Phillies (Photo by Hunter Martin/Getty Images) /

Keone Kela would be an improvement in the Phillies bullpen over Hector Neris.

Fans likely won’t have to watch Kela give up late, back-to-back-to-back home runs, either. In the ninth inning, Kela has a career ERA of 2.77 in 76 opportunities. It’s also worth noting that he’s allowed just 23 home runs over his whole career. Opponents did most of their damage versus the Phillies with the big fly last year, allowing 80 home runs (sixth in the National League).

No reliever is perfect, so there will be some occasional mistakes, but Kela can limit them. His numbers are also inflated a bit from his poor 2016 season, in which he was still getting his feet under him.

From 2017-2019, Kela established himself as one of the more reliable relievers in the game. In those three years, he pitched in 125 games and 120 1/3 innings with 150 strikeouts, a 2.84 ERA, and a 1.01 WHIP. Kela was the Texas Rangers closer in 2018, before getting traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates at the deadline. With Texas that year, Kela racked up 24 saves on 25 opportunities.

Maybe the Phillies will consider bringing him in to fill that role; considering it was a revolving, ninth-inning door for the Phillies in 2020.

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With limited action in his contract year, the Phillies could capitalize while Kela’s price is low. The 27-year-old would provide a massive boost not only in 2021, but hopefully for years to come. His best years are likely still ahead of him.

Phillies fans can only dream of having a relief pitcher like Kela after what they’ve watched in the late innings in recent years. It’s no secret that last year specifically was a disaster. If it wasn’t for the bullpen the Phillies probably would’ve clinched a playoff spot. Signing just one decent reliever would’ve made a significant difference.

Kela has to be on their wish list this offseason with his ability and experience.

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