Yankees place expensive bullpen arm on injured list, call up replacement

MLB: Washington Nationals at New York Yankees
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

As the regular season approaches its climax, the New York Yankees grapple with yet another addition to their injured list, highlighting an ongoing issue with player durability. Their high-profile acquisition from the 2023 off-season, Tommy Kahnle – signed on a two-year, $11.5 million deal to bolster the bullpen – was sidelined on Monday due to right shoulder inflammation.

This move has sent Kahnle to the 15-day injured list, likely drawing the curtains on his 2023 stint with the Yankees. Stepping into his shoes is Matt Bowman, a seasoned 32-year-old relief pitcher who has donned the Yankees’ uniform twice this season. Kahnle’s season was a rollercoaster, where he clocked 40.2 innings over 42 appearances. His stats were impressive, with a 2.66 ERA, 3.80 xFIP, 10.62 strikeouts per nine, an 82.1% left-on-base rate, and a 49% ground ball rate.

Kahnle’s performance trajectory saw a dip in July as he recorded a 5.06 ERA. However, he managed to salvage some form with a 3.38 ERA in August and continued his upward swing in September, registering a commendable 2.08 ERA. In this month alone, he’s allowed merely two earned runs in 8.2 innings and has sent eight batters back to the dugout.

Yankees’ Bullpen Strategy

The Yankees’ approach to their bullpen has been notably thrifty. Under the watchful eyes of pitching coach Matt Blake, they’ve primarily leaned on homegrown talents and under-the-radar signings. While this strategy has paid dividends in building a robust relief setup, Kahnle stands out as the priciest asset, pocketing $5.8 million annually. With his contract set to expire after the 2024 season, the Yankees have their fingers crossed, hoping that his shoulder concerns won’t spill over to the next season and that he’ll be prepped and primed for spring training.

Bowman Steps In Amidst Playoff Woes

Taking up Kahnle’s mantle, Bowman will be aiding the Yankees to navigate the remainder of a less-than-stellar season, having pitched a mere two innings this year with an unflattering 13.50 ERA. The Yankees faced the bitter reality of being ruled out from the playoff contention on Sunday. This marks the first occasion since 2016 that the team won’t be making a postseason appearance, a fact that has certainly set the alarm bells ringing. Rumblings from the front office indicate impending significant changes, and even the iconic slugger, Aaron Judge, acknowledges that some challenging dialogues lie ahead.

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