In the wake of multiple major player signings across the MLB in the last few days, the New York Yankees opened the checkbook and made an addition of their own. Ever since the off-field incident that involved Aroldis Chapman, the Yankees have been looking for a new arm for their bullpen, which they have now found. After a rather short negotiation, the New York Yankees sign Tommy Kahnle in a two year deal worth over $11 million dollars.
This isn’t the right-hander’s first go-around with the Yankees as he pitched for them from the beginning of the 2017 season until the end of 2020. He had his ups and downs throughout but remained a trusted relief pitcher through it all.
Sporting a fastball that remains in the mid-90s with a plus change-up, he certainly fits the narrative of a back-end relief pitcher. Not only does he have the “stuff”, but also has a difficult arm slot for hitters to see, which in turn, makes the ball very hard to see coming out of his hand.
Bringing Back Old Success
After spending the last calendar year in the confines of Los Angeles, he now is expected to return and perform at the level that he once did with a Yankee uniform on. He pitched well during his limited regular-season time on the mound for the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2022, but he hasn’t pitched a full season since 2019. While it has been a while since then, he hasn’t shown signs of slowing down as his swing-and-miss rate is still up with his career numbers and he gets ground-outs at a very high rate.
Despite not having a sinker like the majority of the Yankees bullpen does, his compensates for it by having quite possibly the nastiest change-up in the league. Although it only comes in at around a five mph difference compared to his fastball, it makes up for it with sheer movement. His arm-side run that he gets on it is second to none and he throws it way more often than anyone else does.
In 2022, he essentially performed as a two-pitch guy, with change-ups taking over 3/4 of his pitches thrown. While that may not be the most ideal ratio, it attests to how effective it really is. Before his arm injury in 2020, Kahnle mainly focused on making his fastball his priority pitch, but since then, he has dabbled into off-speed more often and it has paid off nicely.
Where Will the Yankees Put Him?
With all of the young talent that the Yankees have brought up into the bullpen, it is becoming clear that the Yankees are fully invested in creating an unstoppable late-game force. When discussing the future, full-time closer for them, Clay Holmes comes to mind for some.
Sporting the power sinker that many of the Yankee arms have these days, and having some spurts of success that rival some of the best, there’s no question why he is a favorite. Jonathan Loaisiga is another one of the arms the Yankees are proud of as well.
So the question remains, where will the Yankees put Tommy Kahnle? Previously, they used him primarily as a middle-reliever and a set-up man in 2019. The “stuff” that he brought to the table warranted his spot in those situations, and there is a strong possibility that they will use him in a very similar manner in 2023.
Working in tandem with Loaisiga, they could make a very nasty duo in the set-up position and help keep late-game runs to an absolute minimum. They both have very different pitching dynamics, which could be used to a very effective result.
Overall, Kahnle seems to be a very wise addition this off-season, and it will be interesting to see what kind of numbers the Yankees bullpen put up collectively. Filled with talent from top to bottom, there is a strong possibility they could have the best bullpen in the MLB for the 2023 season.
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Featured image courtesy of Gary A. Vasquez / USA Today Sports
Statistics courtesy of baseball-reference.com
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