New York Yankees: The loss of Tommy Kahnle is reverberating among fans and players alike

New York Yankees, Tommy Kahnle

For New York Yankee fans, we all knew it was coming, but still, now that it’s here, it’s just as much of a shock to know that muscle-bound Tommy Kahnle will no longer be coming out of the bullpen hold a game for the Yankees. Fans all over social media are voicing their displeasure that Kahnle has signed a two-year contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Even players like Zack Britton have said it sucks, even posting a photo on Twitter of him walking head down across a field.

During 2017 and 2018, Kahnle was a shining star for the Yankees coming out of the bullpen. In 2019 he was the Yankee staff’s workhorse, pitching in 72 games due to all the injuries. As the season progressed, his bullpen mate Adam Ottavino started to fail, causing Aaron Boone to go to Kahnle as his choice more frequently. Kahnle too tired at the end of the season.

In the shortened Yankee spring training, Kahnle didn’t get many innings in, in fact, only nine innings as the Yankees tried to evaluate the up and coming Yankee pitchers, Deivi Garcia, Clarke Schmidt, and Micheal King. In his nine innings, he was 0-1 in nine games with an ERA of 7.45.

Kahnle’s strikeout rate was the highest of his career in 2019. During the postseason, after a short break, he was doing his best to prepare for the upcoming season when it finally started. Before the 2020 season started, Kahnle had this to say:

“I’ve been basically hanging out trying to survive these times you know, it’s crazy. Basically if it nice outside I’ll go to a local field where I used to play high school baseball. As far as workouts, my studio is closed so I can go in there privately and workout by myself and that’s what I have going for me right now.”

Before starting the 2020 season, Kahle was healthy and fit after a strong offseason fitness program; he took off 25 pounds from his hulking 254-pound body and was ready to compete in the 2020 season. Unfortunately for the Yankees, he only played in one game for one inning, striking out three. That was on July 26 in a New York Yankee win over the Washington Nationals. After the game, he reported elbow soreness. On July 31, Kahnle was placed on the 10-day injured list after an MRI revealed an injury in his right ulnar collateral ligament.

Kahnle ended up having Tommy John surgery in August, keeping him out for all of the 2020 season and most of 2021. Kahnle was scheduled to be a free agent after the 2021 season. After the World Series, the Yankees did not add Kahnle to the 40 main roster.  Instead, they assigned him to Scranton. Kahnle rejected that and chose to be a free agent. Right then and there, it seemed he would not pitch for the New York Yankees again. The Yankees made a mistake by not paying him $750K to keep him in pinstripes.  that way, they could have negotiated a new contract for 2021 and beyond.

If there is any somewhat silvery lining in all of this, it’s that he didn’t go with the Dodgers main contender for Kahnle, the Boston Red Sox. At least they won’t be facing his toes on the mound for another same division team.

 

Yankees: Fan-favorite relief pitcher signs with the LA Dodgers on two-year deal

New York Yankees, Tommy Kahnle

The New York Yankees are extremely thin in the bullpen, so when Tommy Kahnle suggested that he would hit free agency instead of staying on a minor league contract with the Bombers, it was a big surprise. Kahnle has elected to test free agency and subsequently signed a two-year deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Kahnle underwent Tommy John surgery this past year, so he will be rehabilitating well into the 2021 season. He was phenomenal for the Yankees in 2019, earning a 3.67 ERA with a 50.4% ground ball rate and 12.91 strikeouts per nine. Before that, he had a tumultuous 2018 season but two consecutive impressive campaigns in 2016 and 2017.

Ultimately, the Yankees are still in need of support in the bullpen, especially with a few tough performances from players like Chad Green and Adam Ottavino during the 2020 season.

Losing Tommy stings for Yankee fans, as the energy he brought was contagious, and he will be missed in pinstripes. However, he was not going to be an impactful player for the 2021 season, so allowing him to heal and earn an opportunity with the Dodgers was in his best interest.

New York Yankees News: Yankees sign Nestor Cortes Jr., and old friend lefty pitcher

New York Yankees, Nestor Cortes Jr.

The New York Yankees made only one move during the Winter Meetings period, and it wasn’t all that newsworthy. Nevertheless, it was a special day for Nestor Cortez Jr. it was his 26th birthday, and he signed with the New York Yankees. Cortez is a mostly lefty reliever that has been with the Yankees twice before.

The Yankees drafted Cortez out of high school in the 2013 draft. He signed and made his professional debut with The Gulf Coast Yankees of the Rookie League. In 2014, he returned going 1–2 with a 2.27 ERA in 11 games (two starts). Cortés spent 2015 with the Pulaski Yankees, where he compiled a 6–3 record with a 2.26 ERA in 12 games (ten starts). In 2016, he pitched for the Charleston River Dogs. 2016 was a busy year for Cortez Jr. as he worked his way up the Yankee Minor League system, first with the Class A Tampa team, then the Trenton Thunder, and ended up at the AAA Scranton/Wilkes Barre Rail Riders.

With the Rail Riders in 2016, he was 7–4 with a 2.06 ERA in 30 games (13 starts).  After the 2017 season, the New York Yankee bullpen was strongest in all of baseball. That being the case, they did not protect Cortes Jr. from the 2017 rule 5 draft. The Baltimore Orioles took advantage of that and picked him up from the Yankees. After pitching for the Orioles in the minor, they promoted him to the majors. He made his Major League debut on March 31, 2018. That year he pitched only 4.2 innings with an ERA of 7.71.

Nestor Cortes Jr.’s second stint with the New York Yankees. On April 13, 2018, he was returned to the New York Yankees. He played in one game for the Trenton Thunder before returning to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, combining for a 6–6 record and a 3.68 ERA in 24 games. Before the 2019 season, the Yankees invited Nestor to spring training with the big club at George M Steinbrenner Field; he pitched well but did not make the team and started the 2019 season back in Scranton.

The Yankees promoted him to the major leagues on May 9. On June 15, he earned his first Major League win, striking out 7 batters and allowing 2 earned runs in 5 innings. 2019 turned out to be his workhorse season in his career. He pitched over 66 innings, mostly in relief, although he did have one start. Although his 5-1 record was impressive, his ERA of 5.67 wasn’t. Again Cortes Jr. found himself on the short end of the stick. The Yankees were not wanting for an extra hand in the bullpen, and he was traded to the Seattle Mariners.

Cortes Jr. was a horrible flop for the Seattle team. He pitched in relief for 4.2 innings in five games with an incredible 15.26 ERA.  Cortes found himself on the injured list on August 15 with a left elbow impingement, and he missed the remainder of the regular season as a result of the injury. When he returned from the IL, he was dropped from the 40 man roster and elected free agency.

Now Nestor is a Yankee again for the third time and has said on Instagram that he is delighted to be back with the team. In the Yankee move, you have to assume that general manager Brian Cashman has knowledge that his poor showing in 2019 was because of his arm injury. This is surely not a blockbuster announcement but does give manager Aaron Boone another option in the bullpen that will be missing Tommy Kahnle all season while he is rehabbing from Tommy John surgery. The Yankees also know that the big stage at Yankee Stadium is not a problem for Cortes Jr.

 

 

 

New York Yankees Analysis: When the Yankees address starting pitching, don’t forget the bullpen

The New York Yankees have issues. When it comes to pitching, that is an understatement. With Masahiro Tanaka, James Paxton, and J.A. Happ gone to free agency, the Yankees have some holes to fill. When the Yankees fill those holes, they need to do it with pitchers that can give them innings, reducing the bullpen’s stress and overuse. During the last dynasty years, the Yankees had pitchers that could do that and even pitched complete games.  When they didn’t, they had Mariano Rivera and John Wetteland, Medoza, Lloyd, and Rivera.

We all know the record of Hall of Famer Mariano Rivera, but the strength of the bullpen was their set up men. Of Ramiro Medoza, Mike Stanton, Graeme Lloyd, and Jeff Nelson, four won 25 games for the Yankees in 1998. Every starting pitcher had a winning record. Of the Yankees 2020 six starters, only two had winning records. A big difference is that the bullpen this year had to pitch more innings based on a 162 game season than in 1998.

That brings me back to the Yankee’s need for length from their starters. Gerrit Cole and Deivi Garcia were the only starting pitchers to go more than 5 1/2 innings per game, and even Cole only went 6.08 innings per game. Ideally, in this age when pitchers don’t pitch complete games anymore, you would like to see your starters go seven innings leaving just the setup man and closer to close out the game. Of course, that is not realistic, making middle relief really important.

When looking at the bullpen as it now stands, you must remember that the New York Yankees will be without the services of Tommy Kahnle all of next season as he rehabs from Tommy John surgery. So we have Chad Green, Johnathan Holder, Zack Britton, and Aroldis Chapman as the core left in the pen.  That’s great, but they can’t pitch in all 162 games. The Yankees need at least one more dependable arm in the pen, and that is in addition to Clark Schmidt, Jonathan Loaisiga, Miguel Yajure, Luis Cessa. Abreu, King, Kriske, and Lyons all pretty much bombed out and cant’ be counted on.

It seems that Cessa and Loaisiga have been criticized for their performance during the 2020 season. I don’t quite get that Cessa didn’t lose any games for the Yankees and Loaisiga was 3-0 in twelve games, three of which he started. He is young and has time to blossom. Ottavino has another year on his contract, but after failing two years in a row, he won’t be much help next season unless he can figure things out.

All the talk this offseason is on the importance of re-signing DJ LeMahieu and getting a number two premium starter, and rightly so, but don’t forget the bullpen. The bottom line to winning the division and succeeding in the postseason is effective starting pitching, a lineup that consistently hits, and yes, a bullpen that can win games when the starting pitching fails. Usually, you have to have all three components operating at a high level.

With Kahnle gone, ideally, the Yankees should add two quality arms to the 2021 bullpen. Here are some suggestions: Liam Hendriks, $6 million. Hendriks was one of the game’s top relievers over his last two seasons in Oakland. In 2019, he posted a 1.80 ERA and 0.96 WHIP in 75 appearances. He was just as dominant in 2020—32-year-old Alex Colome. In 2020, Colomé posted a sparkling 0.81 ERA and 0.94 WHIP in 21 appearances with the White Sox. Shane Greene put up solid numbers in 2020 with a 2.60 ERA and 1.12 WHIP in 28 appearances for the Braves.  The Yankees could also deal on the trade market, but it doesn’t seem to be the way to go with so many in free agency.

Acquiring Liam Hendriks, the closer for the Athletics, would give manager Aaron Boone the ability to mix and match Hendriks, Britton, and Chapman to suit the opposing hitter in must-win games. I have never been and still am not a big Chapman supporter; although his stats are good, he most often seems to fail in the most important moments. Having three closer types might seem extreme, but it seems really good to me. Hendriks would also not put a huge dent in the New York Yankee finances.

 

New York Yankees: Free agent Tommy Kahnle receiving ‘multiple’ two-year offers

New York Yankees, Tommy Kahnle

The New York Yankees lost a very important piece of their bullpen at the dawn of the shortened 2020 season. Tommy Kahnle, one of the most dependable relievers of the past three years, injured his elbow and required Tommy John surgery, immediately putting a cloud over his future with the franchise.

As a result, the hard-throwing right-hander lost nearly all the 2020 season and will be out, at the very least, until late next season. There is a strong possibility that we won’t see Tommy Kahnle until 2022.

Recently, the New York Yankees outrighted Kahnle off their 40-man roster and, instead of a minor league assignment, he elected to become a free agent. Since he hit the market, he has received plenty of interest from major league teams, according to MLB Network’s Jon Heyman.

Heyman reported on Monday that Kahnle is considering “multiple” two-year offers. He was very effective with the Yankees and teams noticed that. Relievers are always in high demand, so clubs are willing to let him “redshirt” the 2021 season and then essentially having him back in 2022.

Would the Yankees be interested in a two-year pact?

Of course, if teams want to secure Kahnle’s services now, it wouldn’t make much sense for them to sign Kahnle to a one-year deal, since he is going to miss the majority of the 2021 season after the reconstructive elbow surgery, which he had early in August.

In the one inning he threw this season, the Yankees’ hurler allowed no runs and struck out three batters, with one walk. He is known for his excellent changeup, a more dangerous weapon than his four-seam fastball.

Kahnle was a key contributor for the Yankeesin 2017 and 2019 (when he had 88 strikeouts in just 61.1 innings.) Since he got hurt, the Bombers’ bullpen suffered and became a middle-of-the-pack unit, a far cry from the elite groups that the Yankees boasted in 2017, 2018 and 2019.

It’s unclear if the Yankees would be interested in bringing him back on a two-year deal given their needs for the 2021 season, but the possibility of Kahnle returning to the Bronx can’t be dismissed.

New York Yankees News/Rumors: Yankees outright Kahnle, why is the stove so hot? All the news in one place

Kevin Gausman, New York Yankees

Tommy Kahnle and the New York Yankees may be parting ways

The New York Yankees have outrighted Tommy Kahnle. Kahnle has been with the Yankees for four years; during that time, he has been one of the better Yankee relievers, going 6-3 with an ERA of 4.01. Last season he pitched in only one game before undergoing Tommy John surgery in August. Under most circumstances, that would mean that Kahnle would miss most if not all of the 2021 season. The Yankees decided to offer him an assignment to the minor leagues. Kahnle refused and opted for free agency.

This action does not preclude him from being in pinstripes again, but it does allow him to test the free-agent market for his services. What interest he draws is yet to be seen, as he won’t be available to pitch in the 2021 season. Any team that wants him will be looking for his help in 2022. With so little funds available to teams, it will be interesting to see how giving teams will be in acquiring free agents. He is free to talk to any team with his free agency, including the New York Yankees, should they decide to negotiate with him. We may not have seen the last of Tommy at Yankee Stadium.

Why is the stove so hot?

That’s an odd question for a baseball discussion, but that’s really what it is, a baseball discussion. For the last hundred years or so, the baseball offseason has been called the “hot stove.” According to the year, that stove can run hot or cool according to how much there is to discuss. After a season with no fans in the stands, the MLB teams don’t have a lot of money to spend to better their teams, and that includes the New York Yankees, which would lead you to believe that this season the stove will run cold.

Not so, with so many free agents on the market, sportswriters like myself and fans alike will have much bologna to throw around. And most of it will be bologna, as predicting what teams will do this early in the postseason is like predicting the first snowfall. But the question remains, why is this period called the “hot stove?” Back before the turn of the century when there was no television or internet, fans of all sports would meet on weekends at their local post office or general store and gather by the wood or cold fired pot belly stove to discuss the sports news of the day, thus the “hot stove.”  This offseason, the stove is sure to run hot.

Bauer, Kluber, Gausman, or somebody else?

No matter how you try to configure the New York Yankees pitching rotation, the bottom line is they need help. That help should come from a group of premium pitching free agents. And there are many available, but probably only a few that the Yankees will target. Trevor Bauer would be the logical choice as he is the best in the free-agent market, but he may be too good for the Yankee budget.

There has been a lot of talk this week about the Yankees targeting Corey Kluber or Kevin Gausman. Kluber is coming off two injury-riddled seasons but is healthy now. Kluber, the 34-year-old righty starter, went 4-3 with an ERA of 3.97 with the Cleveland Indians before signing a contract with the Texas Rangers. The Rangers failed to exercise his 2021 option for $18 million. He broke his arm, had an oblique injury, and appeared in only one game for the Rangers, resulting in a shoulder strain that kept him off the mound for the entire season. If the Yankees go after Kluber is will only be for a low-cost, prove-it type contract.

Kevin Gausman is a different story. Gusman had a fine year with the San Francisco Giants. Gausman is a veteran righty who went 3-3 with an ERA of 3.62 in 10 starts; he also pitched out of the bullpen. Of the three pitchers mentioned, Gausman will be the economy pick. He is a solid pitcher but could hardly be called a premium pitcher. If the New York Yankees decide to go after him, it will cost them something in the $8-10 million range.

Is the Yankee pitching situation really dire?

The New York Yankees pitching situation is a hot topic this offseason. The Yankees lost Masahiro Tanaka, James Paxton, and J.A. Happ to free agency. Although many sportswriters predict that the Yankees will resign Tanaka at a discount, they will still be short pitchers.  With Cole, Tanaka, and Mongomery, they will have to fill two slots. One of them will be filled by Luis Severino, who will most likely take the second place behind Cole.

No decision has been made on the off suspension Domingo German. They did install him back onto the 40 man roster, but owner Hal Steinbrenner has said that he will have to prove that he is a changed man in order to join the pitching staff. The big question is, how will Severino and German pitch after not pitching for over a year? If they both pitch well, the Yankees are actually in great shape in the future. But are the Yankees willing to take that chance, or will they try to add a premium arm to the rotation?

The DJ LeMahieu complicated and tangled web

All New York Yankees fans know that the Yankees need to keep DJ LeMahieu on the payroll. The Yankees know they want him on the team as well, but at what cost. DJ has been everything the Yankees could have wanted and more. Considering his stats and awards the Yankees stole him from the Colorado Rockies. He signed a two year $24 million contract and now he is a free agent.

As a free agent in this no money postseason, LeMahieu will nevertheless want a big raise. Most believe that will, be in the $20 million a year range and for no less than four years. If he wants much more than that, it is very possible the Yankees will let him walk. If he does walk that will allow the Yankees to solve one problem by moving Gleyber Torres to second base, his natural position, but they would lose a shortstop. This could lead them to take another look at the Indians star, Francisco Lindor, one of the best shortstops in the business. He would likely want a shorter contract, but at the same money LeMahieu would ask for. The Yankees really have a tangled web of decisions to make.

 

New York Yankees: Tommy Kahnle is now a free agent

New York Yankees, Tommy Kahnle

Tommy Kahnle, one of the most dependable bullpen arms of the New York Yankees in recent years, is now a free agent. Something that seemed so far-fetched at the beginning of the season is now a reality: the right-hander is no longer with the Bombers.

Kahnle elected free agency today in lieu of accepting an outright assignment, according to what the club reported via Twitter. The changeup artist will miss the entire 2021 season after he suffered an elbow injury that eventually required the dreaded Tommy John surgery.

Basically, Kahnle was outrighted off the Yankees’ 40-man roster but elected to become a free agent rather than accept an assignment to the minor leagues. He got the surgery in early August and may take his time to sign with a team until late next season or even next winter.

The medical procedure was performed, on August 5, The reconstructive elbow procedure was performed by the New York Yankees’ doctor Chris Ahmad.

A fan favorite that the Yankees will miss

There is a chance he eventually re-signs with the Yankees later down the road when he’s healthy, but it is certainly not a given. He may not be ready until the 2022 campaign.

Kahnle, now 30 years old, only threw one scoreless inning for the Yankees this summer, but had a solid 3.67 ERA with 88 strikeouts over 61 1/3 innings in 2019.

The Yankees had a particularly dominating bullpen from 2017 on, and it was, in part, because of Kahnle. He came from the White Sox that year and helped push the unit into elite status.

Kahnle had a 2018 to forget (6.56 ERA in 23.1 frames) but rebounded nicely in 2019 to help the Yankees make another postseason run.

His injury in 2020 severely damaged the Yankees’ bullpen, and it was the start of a downfall that saw a once-deep unit reduced to having only three trustworthy arms deep in the playoffs: Aroldis Chapman, Chad Green, and Zack Britton.

New York Yankees reliever undergoes Tommy John surgery

New York Yankees, Tommy Kahnle

The New York Yankees‘ injury woes took a few weeks off, but they have once again entered the fold. Relief pitcher Tommy Kahnle felt a tweak in his arm after pitching against the Nationals on Opening Day weekend.

The next day at training, Kahnle felt tightness in his right elbow and proceeded to receive an MRI. According to manager Aaron Boone on July 31, Kahnle was placed on the 10-day injured list, and the MRI revealed a right ulnar collateral ligament injury.

The relief pitcher’s only appearance was in the third game of the season when he worked himself out of a bases-loaded jam and allowed just one hit and one walk. He struck out three batters in the inning. The Yankees went on to win 3-2 against Washington.

According to MLB network Jon Heyman, Yankee Dr. Chris Ahmad performed Tommy John surgery on Kahnle. His recovery is now underway, as it could last from 9 to 12 months. They will likely have to go on without him until the middle of next season, which puts his future in pinstripes in doubt. He will be in the final year of arbitration in 2021, so the Yankees will have to offer him another deal if they wish to keep him around.

In 2019, he posted a 3.67 ERA with 45 hits allowed and 88 strikeouts over 61.1 innings. His impressive performance made him a focal point in the bullpen. The Yankees were excited to begin utilizing him more frequently. This is a huge blow to the bullpen and could spark their interest in relief arms at the trade deadline.

I wouldn’t be surprised if they shopped around one of their alternate left-fielders. Boone has been deploying a trio of options, consisting of Brett Gardner, Mike Tauchman, Miguel Andujar, and has Clint Frazier at the alternative training site. Boone stated that Frazier is 100% ready for MLB action, but the situation just doesn’t allow him to compete. He could be fantastic trade bait for a bullpen arm if they wish to go that route.

New York Yankees lose significant bullpen arm to Tommy John surgery

New York Yankees, Tommy Kahnle

The New York Yankees might have beaten the Boston Red Sox on Friday evening 5-1, but they lost a significant arm in Tommy Kahnle to Tommy John surgery. Kahnle, who pitched against the Baltimore Orioles several days ago, felt discomfort in his elbow during training which lead to the Yankees placing him on the 10-day injured list.

After the team’s victory over Boston, manager Aaron Boone stated that Kahnle was likely headed for surgery, which would force him out for the remainder of the 2020 campaign and possibly training camp in 2021.

Kahnle is a significant piece in the Yankees’ bullpen, and losing him could force the team to consider a younger option to fill his spot. In 2019, Tommy earned a 3.67 ERA with 88 strikeouts over 61.1 innings. The Bombers have several arms who can pick up more of the load in the meantime, but losing him will be a significant blow toward the bullpen.

I expect Jonathan Loaisiga, Adam Ottavino, Luis Avilan, Chad Green, David Hale, and others to supplement Kanhle’s departure.

New York Yankees News/Rumor: The Mystery surrounding Tommy Kahnle’s absence

New York Yankees, Tommy Kahnle

Last night the New York Yankees had a comeback win against the Baltimore Orioles with slugger Aaron Judge pounded a three-run homer in the top of the ninth inning.  A lead the Yankee closer Zack Britton held in his second save of the season.

The game started off with J.A. Happ not having his best night; he gave up four runs in four innings of work.  At the top of the fifth Manager, Aaron Boone brought out long reliever Jonathan Loaisiga to replace Happ.  He walked his first two hitters in the sixth but managed to get out of trouble in a scoreless inning, which he repeated in the seventh.  But in the eight he got into trouble and gave up the Yankee lead.

Under normal circumstances, he would not have left Loaisiga in for the third inning going instead with elite reliever Tommy Kahnle, but Kahnle was nowhere to be found.  Was he even at the game?  We don’t know because when Boone was asked after the game why he didn’t use Kahnle, he had no answer.  He kept saying he wasn’t available. He was asked if he was injured, and instead of saying yes or no, he said: “We’ll have something on that (Friday),” Boone told reporters.

If Tommy was injured, Boone could have just said yes he is.  Why wouldn’t Boone explain his absence?  Could it be he has tested positive for coronavirus?  MLB rules prevent teams from disclosing whether a player tests positive for the coronavirus — unless the player gives the team permission to release his name.

If he indeed has the virus, it will be a big blow to the Yankees and their excellent bullpen.  The New York Yankees often use Kahnle near the end of close games.  Kahnle pitched well in summer camp and was 3-2 last year with an ERA of 3.62 in 72 games.  Being that Boone said he would have something on that (Kahnle) Friday, we such know something soon.  Let’s hope it’s nothing serious.