After last night’s loss to the Rays, the Yankees reportedly called Tommy Kahnle back up to the majors, and demoted Luis Cessa to Triple-A after a poor start. The move represents the latest shuffle in the Yankees bullpen, as the team is churning over the roster a bit at this point in the season to keep fresh arms available every night.
It has, of course, been a rough campaign for Kahnle. Expectations were high for the 28-year-old after a career year in 2017, but he came out of the gates with diminished velocity and quickly hit the disabled list. The right-hander returned in late May but continued to struggle, and was ultimately sent to the minors in June.
Kahnle made a brief cameo a couple weeks ago, when he was called up and tossed a scoreless inning against the Red Sox in Boston’s four-game sweep of New York, but again was sent down. On the year, he has thrown just 10 innings in the majors and allowed 11 runs, seven of them earned. Compare that to 2017, when he struck out 96 batters in 62.2 innings while maintaining a 2.59 ERA.
It’s not apparent whether Kahnle’s stay in the majors is destined to be a longer one this time around. He clearly did not have an absolute or defined role the last time he was called up, and it remains to be seen whether Aaron Boone will have an obvious spot for Kahnle in his bullpen now.
It would certainly help if Kahnle’s velocity returned to its prior levels, but there weren’t any indications of that when he appeared in Boston. According to Brooks Baseball, Kahnle’s fastball sat at 96 mph in his last appearance in the majors, which is at least up from what he was throwing in April before he went on the DL, but still distinctly below the 98 mph gas he was consistently pumping last season.
Hopefully Kahnle has figured something out over the last couple weeks. You can never have too much pitching, and if Kahnle can recapture something close to his form from last season, the Yankees will have another weapon. That being said, Kahnle has been a bit lost all year, so it’s probably wise not to hold your breath.