Kela, 22, emerged as a force in the Texas bullpen in his rookie campaign. Over 60 1/3 frames, he owns a 2.39 ERA with 10.1 K/9 against 2.7 BB/9 to go with a 50.1% groundball rate. Those peripherals supported the excellent results: all the major ERA estimators (FIP, xFIP, and SIERA) viewed Kela as a sub-3.00 performer.
Of course, despite his success, Kela will enter the winter with only one year of service on his clock. That means he’ll be at least two seasons away from arbitration eligibility. While an extension is always theoretically possible, they are fairly rare for young relievers. That’s due in part, of course, to the volatile nature of relievers.
Texas has handled Kela delicately down the stretch, slowing his usage somewhat and even giving him a breather in Triple-A. Though he was medically cleared after experiencing some elbow issues, GM Jon Daniels explained recently that Kela has entered “uncharted territory” this year. He is still expected to play a role in the club’s post-season efforts, but he and the organization will obviously look to minimize the possibility of an injury.