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Yankees reliever Tommy Kahnle requires Tommy John surgery

The right-hander initially presented with forearm tightness.

MLB: New York Yankees-Workouts Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Aaron Boone raised eyebrows last night when he opted to leave Jonathan Loaisiga in for a third inning, rather than turning to one of his better relievers, like Tommy Kahnle. After the game, he put a pit in fans’ stomachs by announcing that Kahnle was unavailable to pitch, telling Erik Boland, “We’ll have more on that tomorrow.”


At today’s pregame press conference, Boone told Bryan Hoch that Kahnle underwent an MRI for forearm tightness. No results have come back yet. The right-hander will meet with club physician Dr. Chris Ahmad later today, so the team expects some clarity shortly thereafter.

Even more ominous.

When it comes to pitching, forearm tightness has a history of serving as the harbinger of bad news. Structural damage to the elbow (such as a torn UCL, for example) tends to present with tightness in the forearm. It’s not uncommon for players to suffer a forearm strain, then find themselves under the knife for Tommy John surgery. Recent Yankees examples include Luis Severino and Jordan Montgomery.

Then again, sometimes forearm tightness is just that, and the pitcher remains healthy for the rest of the season. Zack Britton and Masahiro Tanaka both came back fine after strains in their forearms. Cross your fingers that’s the case here.

Kahnle, 30, appeared in just one game this season, Sunday afternoon’s win against the Nationals. He logged a scoreless, albeit eventful, eighth inning. The right-hander pitched to a 3.67 ERA (3.33 FIP) with a 12.91 K/9 rate across 61.1 innings in 2019.

Update (11:00 PM): It’s the worst-case scenario. Kahnle requires Tommy John surgery.

Boone reiterated this in his postgame news conference. What a bummer. Get well soon, Tommy.

This is a developing situation. Pinstripe Alley will have the latest news as it develops.