Yankees officially activate high-leverage veteran reliever

MLB: New York Yankees-Workouts
Kim Klement Neitzel-USA TODAY Sports

After rehabbing for weeks the Yankees have announced that Tommy Kahnle has been activated off of the IL ahead of tonight’s game. The right-hander was one of the most reliable relievers in their bullpen last season, and while the Yankees haven’t had massive bullpen issues this season, they’ve lost each of the last two games because of their relievers, and Tommy Kahnle should hopefully give them a big boost there. Last season he struck out 29.1% of batters faced with a 2.66 ERA, proving to be a strong option out of the bullpen.

Throwing a new slider, Kahnle is hoping to repeat that excellence or improve in 2024, and he could be a huge help for the Yankees.

Tommy Kahnle Activated Off of IL by the Yankees

New York Yankees, Tommy Kahnle
Feb 17, 2023; Tampa, FL, USA; New York Yankees relief pitcher Tommy Kahnle (41) throws during spring training workouts at George M. Steinbrenner Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Yankees have needed some bullpen depth after injuries ate into their depth chart, with Scott Effross, Ian Hamilton, and Jonathan Loaisiga all on the IL right now. The expectation is that Tommy Kahnle will immediately be brought into high-leverage situations, and he looked dominant in his five rehab outings, striking out 11 of the 15 batters he faced. In those five innings, he didn’t allow a single baserunner, and his velocity was as good as it looked last season as well.

Kahnle’s excellent changeup is still his primary pitch, making him a weapon against left-handed batters, but the pitch he’s been mixing in more is a slider. This sharp gyro slider sits at 87.3 MPH with good vertical movement, and with Tommy Kahnle adding a sinker last year, he now has four different pitches he can go to in any situation. Expect the changeup to still have a high usage rate since it’s a dominant pitch, but batters won’t be able to sit on it anymore.

Entering the last season of a two-year deal he signed with the Yankees prior to the 2023 season, Tommy Kahnle could end up being a very valuable piece of this bullpen. Clay Holmes and Luke Weaver have been dominant all season, but overuse is always a concern when discussing high-leverage relievers. As guys like Ian Hamilton come back from their shorter-term injuries, you can start filling out this depth chart with quality options to hold the fort down in big games.

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