Though the New York Yankees’ bullpen is largely humming along with a few standard bumps in the road (Jonathan Loaisiga and Lucas Luetge), it would be nice to have another successful veteran helping support the unit.
Back in 2020, the Bombers lost Tommy Kahnle shortly after the abbreviated season began to an elbow injury, which eventually required Tommy John surgery. The right-hander was non-tendered in the offseason because he was set to miss the entire 2021 campaign.
Then came the Los Angeles Dodgers, who swooped in and signed Kahnle to a two-year contract, completely unconcerned about his potential contributions in 2021. In fact, they paid him $1.025 million that year just to make sure they’d have him for 2022!
Kahnle’s return was delayed into May, but the right-hander finally got back on the mound for the first time since July 26, 2020. The results were … the old Tommy Kahnle in pinstripes.
Remember that patented changeup in 2017 and 2019? After coming over at the 2017 trade deadline, Kahnle was a key piece of the Yankees’ bullpen on their run to the ALCS. He regressed in 2018 and dealt with injuries, but came back in 2019 to contribute in a big way again.
And it looked just like this from his outing on May 1 against the Detroit Tigers.
Former Yankees RHP Tommy Kahnle’s changeup is as nasty as ever
Disappearing changeup. And the long hair! Welcome back to the show, Tommy! That one scoreless inning in the sixth featured two strikeouts on nine pitches in a perfect frame and helped the Dodgers to a 6-3 victory.
Then came Wednesday against the San Francisco Giants. Kahnle made his second appearance of the season and pitched one scoreless frames on nine pitches, only giving up one hit.
Now, it seems he’ll help bridge the gap to closer Craig Kimbrel alongside Blake Treinen, Daniel Hudson, Brusdar Graterol, Alex Vesia and others. We’re not sure who we’d trade out for Kahnle at this moment (probably Chad Green though) because the Yankees bullpen, which is already among the best in the league, is still ascending.
That, at the very least, is the silver lining here. Incorporating Kahnle back into the mix for the Yankees would’ve taken a lot of time, created more uncertainty, and would’ve perhaps prevented one of the contributing cast members from emerging in the manner they have.
Nestled in the National League, Yankees fans can enjoy watching Kahnle in 2022 without it affecting their team’s standing, which is usually what everybody hopes for when former players find new homes.
Enjoy that filthy changeup … that is, unless these two match up in the World Series come October.