Dan Szymborski’s ZiPS projections are a good measure of what to expect from players in the upcoming baseball season. We'll take a look at the Rangers' projections on a position-by-position basis. Szymborski can be found on Twitter at @DSzymborski.
Last season saw the Rangers overhaul their overworked, underperforming bullpen at the trade deadline, but Keone Kela was one of the few bright spots before that point. The rookie fireballer had put together a great season but was overworked. He took a break right around the trade deadline, taking a "demotion" to Frisco and only pitching once in a two-week span before being called back up for the stretch run and dominating.
Kela: 72 games, 63 innings pitched, 71 strikeouts, 19 walks, 6 home runs, 3.14 ERA, 10.14 K/9 innings, 2.71 BB/9 innings
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Kela is emerging as one of the best young relief pitchers in baseball, and these projections go along with that idea. The K/9 innings and walks per nine innings jump out at you right away as a dominant arm that could easily profile as a closer and if he's not traded he likely is the Rangers' closer of the future if not in 2016 then almost certainly the following year.
The Rangers suffered a scare last year when he was dealing with some elbow inflammation but it never materialized into anything serious as he just got some rest, came back and continued to blow and go through the postseason.