At 33 years old, Kahnle inked a two-year contract with the Yankees, with an annual average of $5.8 million.
Presently on a rehabilitation assignment, Kahnle has previously grappled with biceps tendinitis, which sidelined him for a substantial period.
As a bullpen piece, he’s a high-strikeout pitcher who has shown impressive performance in the past, even though he occasionally concedes home runs.
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The Yankees are hoping to get the 2019 version of Tommy Kanhle back:
During his 2019 stint with the Yankees, Kahnle posted a 3.67 ERA over 61.1 innings, averaging nearly 13 strikeouts per nine innings, with a 50.4% ground ball rate. Although his 23.1% HR/FB ratio could stand some improvement, he performed sufficiently well to earn the Yankees’ trust as a reliable arm.
Kahnle’s performance over the past three seasons has been limited, pitching just 13.2 innings. The start of his 2023 season has been less than promising.
Having missed the first 50+ games of the regular season, the Yankees are optimistic about extracting any value, if not substantial production, from Kahnle. In 2022, he pitched only 12.2 innings towards the season’s end with the Los Angeles Dodgers, following Tommy John surgery.
Despite the small sample size, Kahnle posted a 2.84 ERA and 3.14 xFIP, striking out 10 batters per nine innings with a high 68% ground ball rate.
In reference, Kahnle does occasionally allow home runs but compensates with a high strikeout rate, indicating a clear strength.
Kahnle primarily relies on two pitches, a change-up, and a four-seam fastball. Over the years, he’s steadily leaned on his change-up, using it 76.4% of the time last season, resulting in a .094 batting average against with a 36% whiff rate.
Notably, his change-up demonstrates 11% more vertical movement than the average pitcher, achieving 31.4 inches of drop. Utilizing a tunneling technique between his fastball and change-up, Kahnle challenges opposing batters to distinguish between the incoming pitches, forcing them to make last-minute decisions. However, when batters do correctly anticipate the pitch, he yields hard contact, reflected by the increased home run rates.
The return of Kahnle represents a significant boost for the Yankees’ bullpen, which has been performing admirably this season. After completing a few rehabilitation assignments, Kahnle is expected to rejoin the Yankees in their upcoming series against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
In response to this development, the Yankees have reassigned LHP Matt Krook to Triple-A Scranton.