Yankees’ $11.5 million relief pitcher is struggling to carry his weight

MLB: New York Yankees at Boston Red Sox
Credit: Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Yankees‘ bullpen, once among the elite in Major League Baseball, has seen a significant decline in recent weeks. They have dropped to sixth place with a team ERA of 3.41, narrowly staying ahead of the Boston Red Sox and other competitive teams like the New York Mets.

The Yankees Need More From Tommy Kahnle

A key issue plaguing the Yankees is the performance of Tommy Kahnle. Since returning from injury, Kahnle, known for his dynamic personality and fan-favorite status, has pitched just 8.1 innings. While it’s reasonable to allow him more time to regain his form, this isn’t the first instance of inconsistency from the 34-year-old pitcher.

Despite high strikeout rates, Kahnle struggles with control, evidenced by his high rates of walks (7.56 per nine innings) and home runs (2.16 per nine innings). However, he does show some positive signs, with a solid 57% ground ball rate and a 78.4% left-on-base rate, indicating potential for improvement.

MLB: New York Yankees at Baltimore Orioles, tommy kahnle
Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

A significant concern for Kahnle is the loss of velocity on his fastball, which has dropped from 95.4 mph last year to 93.6 mph this year. This decrease could severely impact his effectiveness, as his fastball and change-up combination has been less effective this season, with opposing hitters batting .250 against his fastball.

Urgent Need for Recovery and Reinforcements

The Yankees are in a crucial phase where Kahnleā€™s recovery of his fastball velocity is vital. If he fails to regain his form, General Manager Brian Cashman might need to make moves before the trade deadline to strengthen the bullpen.

Issues with Closer Clay Holmes

Adding to the Yankees’ bullpen concerns is Clay Holmes, the 31-year-old closer who has posted a respectable 2.53 ERA over 32 innings this season. However, Holmes has recently shown signs of struggle, giving up five earned runs in his last three appearances. These volatile stretches are concerning, especially as the postseason approaches, when reliable closing is crucial.

With the team needing consistent performance from its bullpen to contend for the World Series, and additional needs in the infield, Cashman faces a challenging task at the trade deadline. Finding a top closer and addressing infield issues may be necessary to bolster the team’s championship aspirations, but such moves are easier said than done.

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