Tommy Kahnle finds out what is ailing him, vows to reset himself

Yankees pitcher Tommy Kahnle is seen against the Nationals on Aug 24, 2023, at Yankee Stadium.
Michael Bennington
Friday August 25, 2023

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Pitcher Tommy Kahnle‘s fortune has dipped with the Yankees slide. From being an untouchable to becoming a vulnerability within the New York bullpen, he has nosedived to the red zone. However, the right-handed pitcher acknowledges his problem.

Tommy Kahnle attributed his recent struggles to an excessive dependency on his changeup pitch. He commented that there appeared to be a growing awareness among his fellow players that his preferred pitch of choice was becoming recognizable. This observation followed his concession of two home runs, both resulting from changeup pitches, during the seventh inning of a 6-5 defeat against the Nationals in a game held at Yankee Stadium on Thursday.

“It seems guys are starting to catch on that that’s my go-to pitch,’’ Tommy Kahnle observed. “I’m going to have to make an adjustment and go from there.” 

Tommy Kahnle ready to reset his pitch

Following a commendable sequence of eight scoreless appearances, Tommy Kahnle encountered a setback by conceding three home runs in his previous two outings. The pitcher acknowledged the necessity to implement a modification to his approach and then build upon that adjustment moving forward.

Throughout this season, Tommy Kahnle has utilized his changeup extensively, accounting for 79.6 percent of his pitches—marking the highest proportion in his career—while his fastball usage has dropped to a career-low 17.6 percent.

This alteration in pitch distribution was intentional, attributed to the adjustments made after his recovery from Tommy John surgery, which saw him rejoining the game during the latter part of the previous season.

In light of his recent decline in performance, Tommy Kahnle anticipates a reassessment of his pitch selection. As his fastball velocity is regaining strength, it suggests that this pitch might be more advantageous for him at this point.

During Thursday’s game, he yielded a decisive home run to Alex Call, with another by CJ Abrams, both coming off his changeup. Tommy Kahnle attributed his struggles to inadequate placement, emphasizing the necessity for greater accuracy when frequently relying on a single pitch. He acknowledged that opposing hitters have likely deciphered his patterns, a development that didn’t come as a surprise to him.

Tommy Kahnle acknowledged that at the major league level, players tend to adapt, and he recognized the need for him to also make corresponding adjustments.

Yankees’ problem goes beyond Tommy Kahnle

However, Tommy Kahnle is not the sole individual among the bullpen’s later innings contributors who have encountered a period of difficulty. In the ninth inning, Clay Holmes conceded a run, relinquishing four hits and a hit-by pitch. This marked the third occasion in his recent four appearances that Holmes has yielded runs. Nonetheless, in this most recent outing, misfortune played a significant role, as he allowed two softly-hit infield singles.

During the second inning, the Yankees showcased their struggles when they faced adversity on the bases, exhibiting an overall subpar performance. One instance involved Kyle Higashioka, who, after hitting a double with one out, was tagged out at third base while attempting to advance on Oswald Peraza’s ground ball to the shortstop. Shortly thereafter, the inning concluded as Peraza was caught in a rundown while off first base.

Manager Aaron Boone acknowledged that this type of play had led to Higashioka being thrown out for the second time. Boone mentioned discussing the matter with Higashioka, labeling it a “poor decision.” Yet, Boone also acknowledged the broader context that runners are striving to refine their timing off second base.

Boone emphasized the importance of finding a middle ground between aiming for a timely start and maintaining awareness of the ball’s position.

Taking the mound for his second start this season, Michael King found himself dissatisfied as he was only able to remain in the game for a mere 2 and two-thirds innings, with his pitch count reaching 50.

He attributed his departure to two walks that occurred during the third inning. Despite this setback, his performance resulted in the concession of merely an unearned run. This comes at a time when the Yankees are grappling with a shortage of starting pitching options, further underscoring their rotational challenges.

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