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Can Tommy Kahnle Help the Dodgers’ Bullpen in 2022?

New York Yankees relief pitcher Tommy Kahnle throws during the eighth inning of Game 5 of baseball's American League Championship Series against the Houston Astros Wednesday, Oct. 18, 2017, in New York. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

With the venue to the MLB lockout talks shifting to Florida on Monday, there’s still not much light at the end of the tunnel as far as a collective bargaining agreement goes. As it stands, the MLB on Friday cancelled spring training games between February 26 and March 4.

Writers and bloggers have gotten creative during the time off, as the roster freezes have put a halt on major league player transactions. Our friend Steve Adams over at MLBTR last week put together an interesting story surrounding eight pitchers who could make an impact in 2022.

Although Adams didn’t mention Caleb Ferguson, who should be able to contribute at the beginning of the season, he did discuss the return of Tommy Kahnle, who also should be ready to go once all this CBA chaos is settled.

Just before the 2021 season began, the Dodgers signed the righty Kahnle knowing that he’d sit out a full year after having undergone UCL surgery the previous August. The deal was for two years and $4.75 million. At the time, there were expectations he could pitch by the end of the 2021 season, but those plans were void not long after the All-Star break.

The 6-foot-1, 230-pound righty hasn’t thrown a full season of work since 2019 with the Yankees when he made 72 appearances, posting a 3.67 ERA and a 1.060 WHIP with 88 punchouts and 20 walks over 61 1/3 innings of work.

Kahnle’s best year as a big leaguer came in 2017 when he split time between the Rockies and White Sox as a 27-year-old, posting a combined 2.59 ERA with 96 strikeouts over 62 2/3 innings.
Now, at 32, the New York resident looks to get back on track in his final contract year with the Dodgers.

Kahnle throws primarily a four-seam, a changeup, and a slider. While most pitchers — especially relievers — often avoid throwing changeups to same-handed batters, Kahnle will throw it anywhere, at any time. It’s that good.

He’s about 50/50 heat and off speed; his fastball touched as high as 98 MPH before his surgery in 2020.

While we know that Kahnle should be healthy, it’s tough to say where he’ll fit into the bullpen without seeing how effective he can be post-surgery. Corey Knebel landed in Philadelphia, and there’s still a ton of uncertainty around a potential Kenley Jansen return. As it stands, veteran righty Blake Treinen quite possibly could open the season as the closer, but the high-leverage crew could be a fight between guys like Ferguson, Brusdar Graterol, Phil Bickford, Alex Vesia and maybe even Daniel Hudson.

Either way, we can be sure Kahnle gets his fair share of looks.

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