Yankees getting exactly what they need from Tommy Kahnle


Even though the Yankees went out this offseason and spent big on relievers Adam Ottavino and Zack Britton, it can be argued that Tommy Kahnle’s reemergence from a dreadful 2018 has been key to the success of the bullpen.

Not only must credit be given to Tommy Kahnle for overcoming a horrendous 2018 season, one in which he spent a significant amount of time at Triple-A Scranton, but the Yankees as well should be commended for not giving up the talented 29-year-old right-hander.

Though Kahnle did his best to battle through shoulder tendinitis last year, he was only able to throw 23.1 big league innings.

During that time, he most certainly wasn’t the same pitcher the Yankees acquired the summer before from the White Sox: 6.56 ERA, 1.629 WHIP and 30:15 K:BB ratio in 24 appearances.

He was only slightly better in the minors; in 26.2 innings (one appearance at Low-A Charleston), Kahnle went 2-2 with 4.05 ERA, 1.388 WHIP and 39:11 K:BB.

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However, Kahnle’s stellar audition with the Yanks in 2017 (2.70 ERA and 12.2 K/9 in 32 games) and relatively inexpensive second-year arbitration salary of $1.387 million earned him one final crack at making the Yankee bullpen.

This offseason, Kahnle initially gave himself more time off to rest than he had ever previously done, stopped over-throwing to compensate for the loss of velocity on his fastball (from 97.7 mph down to 95.1 mph) and dropped his slider in favor of a much more controllable changeup.

And so on Sunday, the culmination of Kahnle’s early-season success came to a head when he became the first Yankees pitcher not to allow a single hit or run through 11 consecutive relief appearances.

The Latham, NY product also became just the third pitcher in MLB history to record one strikeout in 11 appearances when combined without allowing a hit or run.

Referring to Kahnle, who has retired 28 out of the last 30 hitters he’s faced (both got on via the walk), teammate Adam Ottavino, had this to say to Brian Heyman of Newsday:

"“When he’s right and healthy and throwing strikes, I’d put him up there against almost anyone, really, because his fastball is electric and he’s got, for me, one of the best changeups in the game,” said fellow reliever Adam Ottavino.”“It’s a power changeup,” Ottavino said. “You just don’t see that. It looks like a splitter and it drops really hard and it’s already 90, and he throws it with good arm speed. So it’s a unique pitch.”"

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With his 65.4 percent groundball rate, 34.7 percent strikeout rate and super low 2.3-degree launch angle, Tommy Kahnle is paying off in ways no one would have expected at the start of this season.