When changeup artist Tommy Kahnle recorded the final out of the eighth inning of the 2020 Yankees‘ third game of the season, in front of an empty crowd in Washington, it felt like a fist-pumping tornado of a strikeout, much like any other.
Unfortunately, Kahnle quickly became the Yankees’ first genuine casualty of the truncated, stop-and-start-and-stop-for-longer Spring Training/Summer Camp cycle. Fans were warned about the increased likelihood of pitcher injuries, but Kahnle made such warnings a reality when he suffered a UCL tear that depleted their bullpen for the remainder of the campaign and led him to Dodger Blue.
Fans missed his enthusiasm. Aaron Boone missed his seventh-inning guy. It was understandable when both sides were unable to come to a complex new deal to carry Kahnle throughout his rehab, but that didn’t mean we had to enjoy the departure.
Instead, Andrew Friedman of the Dodgers paid Kahnle for an absent 2021 so that he could dominate in 2022. While his return did occur this season, in promising fashion, Kahnle’s comeback took a quick hit, one from which he’s yet to recover.
Facing elbow pain (called a “bone bruise” in his right elbow), Kahnle pitched in just four games after being activated May 1, and found himself swiftly packed up and placed back on the shelf.
Over the weekend, in a subtle roster shuffle, the Dodgers moved his timeline further back, transferring the potential weapon to the 60-Day IL.
Ex-Yankees fan favorite Tommy Kahnle’s career in Dodger Blue has sad potential ending
Once upon a time in early May, Kahnle was uncorking his signature pitch in Los Angeles and making us all feel squeamish/proud. Now, he seems to be down for the count once again.
Just two days prior to the decision being made, Dodgers fans were assured by Dave Roberts that the right-hander with the tantalizing changeup would return “by the end of the summer” — and maybe that’s true. Being placed on the 60-Day IL allows for the possibility of that timeline. It also sort of feels like any pitcher who ends up on that list has their seasonal fate sealed.
Kahnle is still just under 33 years old, and while his high velocity helped along his road to stardom, his changeup is what truly defined his rapid rise. He should have a few more years of tunneling and taking advantage of that velocity gap.
Seeing his grand reentrance fall apart quickly, though, stings from across the country.