Kela has Tommy John surgery, out for season

May 20th, 2021

SAN DIEGO -- Padres right-hander underwent Tommy John surgery and will miss the remainder of the season, manager Jayce Tingler announced Wednesday, delivering a blow to San Diego's National League-leading relief corps.

The Padres inked Kela to a one-year deal during the offseason, knowing that his upside was high. Kela owns a career 3.33 ERA with 11 strikeouts per nine innings. But San Diego knew from the start that the signing would be a risk, after Kela had pitched only two innings last season because of right forearm inflammation.

Kela made 12 appearances for the Padres in 2021, posting a 5.06 ERA. He was especially effective at the outset, opening the season with six consecutive scoreless outings. But he was hit hard prior to the first of two IL stints this season.

The Padres have a deep group of relievers that should be capable of withstanding Kela's absence. Entering play Wednesday, San Diego relievers had posted a 2.64 ERA, the best mark in the National League.

Nonetheless, the injuries are piling up, and there's only so much that a deep bullpen can withstand. Left-hander Drew Pomeranz (left shoulder impingement) could return for the Padres' road trip next week. But Taylor Williams (right knee inflammation), Dan Altavilla (right elbow inflammation) and Matt Strahm (right knee surgery) aren't yet anywhere close to a return. Michel Baez, José Castillo and Adrian Morejon, meanwhile, have already undergone Tommy John surgery this season.

"A couple things help," Tingler said. "The bullpen's been outstanding. We've got a ton of depth down there. We've got a lot of reliable guys. It also helps -- [Yu] Darvish going seven, [Blake] Snell going six and [Joe] Musgrove going seven. ... I think the best thing we could do for the bullpen is what Darvish, Snell and Joe did over the last three."