Tommy Kahnle was another one of those low-risk gambles that we’ve grown accustomed to seeing from this Dodgers front office in recent years. The former Yankee signed a two-year deal to come out west before the 2021 season when it was already clear he wouldn’t take the mound that year after Tommy John surgery.
Overall, the contract cost the Dodgers $4.75 million over two year, and for a perennial contender always in search of serviceable relievers that it can trust in high-leverage spots in the postseason, the move was basically a no-brainer. After all, Kahnle had a pretty significant track record of success with the White Sox and Yankees from 2017 through 2019, outside a rough 2018.
Ultimately Kahnle came back in 2022 and looked excellent when he was able to pitch, but seldom you saw him active on the roster, as he went back on the injured list quickly after his return, only to return for the final stretch run.
In the 2022 regular season, Kahnle pitched a mere 12⅔ innings and was virtually unhittable outside one blowup against the Pirates in May, as he allowed only one run on three hits in his other 12 appearances.
It wasn’t necessarily the production that the team expected, but all of that would’ve been worth it, had Kahnle been able to be a reliable option in the postseason for a ‘pen that, despite all of its success in the regular season, lacked the elite options that you could blindly turn to in a big spot in playoff baseball.
However, that was not the case. Kahnle is now a free agent, and in case he doesn’t come back to the Dodgers, which is fair to expect, he’ll probably be remembered as the reliever who initiated the seventh-inning blowup in Game 4 of the NLDS.
Kahnle had pitched a couple of perfect innings in games 2 and 3 of the NLDS, with four strikeouts. He got the ball with the Dodgers up by two runs in Game 4, and proceeded to allow all three hitters to reach base, each of them scoring in the inning that ended the Dodgers season.
It was one tumultuous appearance in a short sample size, and it shouldn’t define how we view Kahnle. Understanding the injury concerns that come with him, and are likely to limit his earning capabilities in the open market, it is actually enticing that the front office brings him back.
When he was available, Kahnle certainly looked like a reliable setup man, and the fact he pitched in three of the Dodgers' four playoff games, despite little to no regular season work, certainly indicates that.
Stats: 2.84 ERA, 2.39 xERA, 4.38 FIP, 12⅔ IP, 3 BB, 14 K
Salary: $3.7 million ($3.45-million salary, plus $250,000 of his signing bonus in February)
Game of the year
Kahnle earned the fifth save of his major league career with a clean tenth inning against the Padres on September 28, preserving a 1-0 win.
Kahnle is a free agent.