Yankees’ high-strikeout relief arm makes instant impact in return

MLB: Seattle Mariners at New York Yankees, tommy kahnle
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The New York Yankees have eagerly awaited the return of key bullpen arms, and their patience paid off with the return of Tommy Kahnle this Wednesday. Kahnle, a 34-year-old right-handed pitcher, marked his comeback with a perfect sixth inning, providing solid relief for starter Nestor Cortes against the Seattle Mariners. Cortes himself had a strong outing, surrendering just three hits and striking out six over five innings, keeping the Mariners scoreless.

Tommy Kahnle Returns to Bolster Yankees’ Bullpen

In his return, Kahnle was efficient, throwing 15 pitches—nine of which were strikes—and successfully handling the Mariners’ lineup with a line out to center, a ground out to shortstop, and a fly out to right field. This performance is an encouraging sign for Kahnle, who has been sidelined for several months due to a shoulder injury.

MLB: New York Yankees at Baltimore Orioles, tommy kahnle
Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Last year, Kahnle pitched 40.2 innings and posted a commendable 2.66 ERA with a strikeout rate of 10.62 per nine innings, alongside an 82.1% left-on-base rate and a 49% ground ball rate. Known for his ability to handle high-leverage situations and his impressive strikeout capabilities, Kahnle is a critical asset for the Yankees, particularly in tight games.

To make room for Kahnle on the roster, the Yankees optioned Clayton Andrews. However, attention is now turning to Michael Tonkin, who experienced a shaky seventh inning by allowing two earned runs in 1.1 innings, momentarily causing concern.

Looking ahead, the Yankees are treating the potential returns of Lou Trivino and Scott Effross like mid-season trade acquisitions, expecting both to be back by late July.

Kahnle’s return and his effective change-up/four-seam fastball combination add significant depth and quality to the bullpen. If his shoulder remains healthy—considering his past injury issues—Kahnle’s presence in the second year of his two-year, $11.5 million contract will be incredibly valuable for the Yankees as they push through the season.

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