Yankees lose two prominent bullpen arms ahead of regular season

lou trivino, yankees
Sep 3, 2022; St. Petersburg, Florida, USA; New York Yankees relief pitcher Lou Trivino (56) throws a pitch against the Tampa Bay Rays during the fifth inning at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Rich Storry-USA TODAY Sports

The Yankees will have to put that excellent bullpen depth to the test right away. It was announced that Lou Trevino will begin the season on the IL as he deals with an elbow ligament strain. He joins Tommy Kahnle, who has been shut down for the next week from throwing, as he nurses biceps tendinitis. Needless to say, it’s not an ideal start to the season for the Yankees’ bullpen. However, it’s not the end of the world, as there are some quality options that they can deploy to mitigate their losses. 

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Trivino was an unheralded force last season with the Yankees:

The Yankees acquired Lou Trivino last deadline as part of the Frankie Montas deal, and the former A’s closer was as solid as they come when he pitched in pinstripes. He did his job and did it well, and his loss will be a bigger blow than many give credit for. In 21.2 innings with the Yanks, he posted a 1.66 ERA and a 3.34 FIP. He also put up a minuscule 5.6% HR/FB%, even if his K% and BB% went in the wrong direction. 

He got fewer swings and misses when he came over, but it shouldn’t be a sign of concern. He just decided to pitch more to soft contact and grounders rather than attempting to blow everything by hitters. He induced soft contact on 22.0% of batted balls, which was a huge uptick from the 12.5% he posted with Oakland. Trivino was close to dominant with New York, and it’ll be difficult to see who replaces his productivity in the bullpen. 

Kahnle was the reunion we deserved, but now it’s a waiting game:

As for Tommy Kahnle, it’s unfortunate he’s already been shut down from throwing, as he has yet to even make an appearance or throw a bullpen session with the team. The Yankees decided to bring back Kahnle on a two-year deal, despite the fact he’s only thrown 13.2 innings since 2020. I’m a huge Kahnle fan, and I think he brings a lot to the table, not just on the field but off it as well, however, I’m not sure if it was the best move in hindsight. 

If Kahnle is healthy and on, he’s still a fantastic reliever. He throws a dominant changeup that he uses more than 3/4 of the time when he comes into the game. That’s the key, though, is when he’s healthy. It’s been a while since he’s been able to throw a full season’s worth, and this year is shaping up to seem no different. Kahnle was one of the key guys the Yanks got back in 2017, with David Robertson and Todd Frazier being the others that also came to the Bronx. 

The Kahnle reunion was what seemed to be a great opportunity to snag a buy-low candidate and let him cook with the boys, but if he has to deal with biceps tendinitis and it’s a recurring issue — a la 2018, it will be a mistake of a signing. I want to hold out hope for Kahnle, but it’s already looking bleak, though the season hasn’t even started yet, so he has plenty of time to right the ship and get healthy before the important games start to roll by. 

A few potential options could have an even greater impact now:

The Yankees, fortunately, have a flurry of arms they may decide to toss out there, with guys like Greg Weissert, Albert Abreu, and the lefty Matt Krook now having a better opportunity to break camp as part of the 26-man roster. I wouldn’t be surprised if Krook is given one of the spots, as the Yanks only have Wandy Peralta as the lone lefty in the pen. Krook has a dominant slider and a solid sinker to pair with it, and in 5.0 innings this spring has looked almost unhittable. 

As for Weissert and Abreu, I can see one of the two potentially getting a spot, especially if Rodon is to miss the first month or so of the season. That would likely mean both German and Schmidt are slotted into the rotation as the fourth and fifth starters, which is less than ideal but certainly manageable. The season hasn’t even begun yet, so it’s not time to raise the alarms just yet, but it’s definitely not off to a hot start. 

These next few weeks of spring will be huge for a few guys, and I can see some others potentially popping up and tossing their names in the ring. One guy I have been loving so far, that’s an under-the-radar option, is Ian Hamilton. He’s tossed 3.0 innings in spring, surrendering two base knocks and striking out three to go with it. He’s got a fantastic cutter and could be a name to watch break camp. Hopefully, the Yanks can manage with the injury bug so early on.