Yankees get encouraging update on Tommy Kahnle’s timetable for return

New York Yankees, Tommy Kahnle
May 5, 2019; Bronx, NY, USA; New York Yankees relief pitcher Tommy Kahnle (48) pitches during the seventh inning against the Minnesota Twins at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

The Yankees are getting some reinforcements to the bullpen next month, as Tommy Kahnle is finally making his way back to the squad. The bullpen has been one of the few strengths for this team to start this year, and adding Kahnle will be a welcomed sight.

The Yankees signed Kahnle to a 2-year deal worth $11.5 million over the offseason, and while he’s missed some time to start, he was great last year when he returned to action. Kahnle was also one of the most beloved Yankees on the team and is a huge presence in the clubhouse. 

“Tommy Kahnle tossed 15 pitches from a bullpen mound today at Target Field… felt great. Next one is Sunday in Arlington.”

As per Bryan Hoch

Having him back in the bullpen will help lengthen the options we can use, and it’ll help keep some other arms fresh for the long run of this season. Marinaccio got tagged last night for his first real bad outing, but it’s imperative that the Yanks don’t overwork him before the meaningful part of the year. 

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Kahnle could be a key weapon for the Yankees’ bullpen

Last year, Kahnle only tossed 12.2 innings but was very productive in those innings. He posted a 9.95 K/9, 2.13 BB/9, and an ERA and FIP of 2.84 & 4.38. He features his patented dominant changeup, the occasional fastball, and a breaking ball that dances around the plate. If he’s able to stay healthy for the rest of the year, he should be a huge weapon for this team to utilize. 

The Yankees have struggled across the board, but a major factor is that they’re not healthy whatsoever. They have $118 million on the injured list, including Kahnle’s ~$6m that he’s owed this season. Tommy is one of the better arms in the ‘pen when healthy, and hopefully, we see his stuff play up when he returns from injury. 

Kahnle already throwing some bullpen sessions shows me that he appears to be slightly ahead of schedule. Back in spring, when he was shut down from throwing, it made me believe we’d be lucky to see him in the second half of the season. Instead, he will likely be returning at the end of May. Per Boone, it seems that they’re targeting May 26th for his return. 

When Tommy comes back, it’ll be a steady diet of overpowering changeups mixed with the occasional out pitch. He’s a changeup-heavy pitcher but also still gets a good amount of swings-and-misses for someone that relies on pounding the bottom of the zone and outside corners. The bullpen is the biggest strength on this squad at the moment, and it’ll get that much deeper when he’s added to the roster. 

Having Kahnle will add more length to this ‘pen

I’m not quite sure who will be the guy that gets sent down a month from now, but there are a few potential options. The sure things that’ll remain are: Marinaccio, King, Holmes, Wandy, Hamilton, Abreu, and I’d say Cordero. That means he’ll be given the final spot, and I wouldn’t be complaining at all. That group could be the best in baseball, and they already find themselves top 5 in numerous categories. 

The Kahnle addition will be a huge win for the Yanks, especially seeing how they are really only getting excellent outings from Gerrit Cole. The rotation is stretched incredibly thin at the moment, and it seems that every game, the bullpen is called upon and needed to throw multiple innings of high-leverage baseball just to keep the team in it. I think the Yanks will figure things out as the games go by, but the bullpen cannot continue to be used as it has been. 

Tommy Kahnle was great with the Yanks during his previous tenure. When acquired as part of the David Robertson trade, he immediately fit right in and was dominant. Take away the one season where he was battling injury and inconsistencies, and he was arguably one of the best relievers on the squad. In 2017 & 2019, he posted a 3.20 ERA over 83.0 innings and had a 12.7 K/9. He was excellent, and hopefully, we get that version of Tommy Tightpants when he returns.