The Dodgers activated reliever Tommy Kahnle from the injured list before Sunday’s series finale against the Tigers, providing a fresh arm to a bullpen that allowed four runs in a rare misstep in Saturday’s loss.
For Kahnle, it marks the end of a lengthy rehabilitation, three days shy of 21 months since his Tommy John surgery. When he appears for the Dodgers, it will be his first major league game since July 26, 2020.
The right-hander had surgery in August 2020 while with the Yankees. Kahnle signed a two-year, $4.75 million contract with the Dodgers prior to the 2021 season, knowing he would miss all of 2021 while rehabbing.
The Dodgers slow-played Kahnle during spring training, using him in only one game, and not until he Freeway Series. The right-hander said during spring he planned to essentially use April as his spring training to get ready. Kahnle started the regular season on the 10-day injured list.
Kahnle appeared in eight games on his minor league rehab assignment, spread over three weeks with Low-A Rancho Cucamonga and Triple-A Oklahoma City. He had a 2.84 ERA with seven strikeouts and a walk in 6⅓ innings.
Kahnle’s final box checked was appearing in back-to-back games with the Quakes, facing one batter on Wednesday and three batters Thursday.
Now 32 years old, Kahnle is looking for a return to his effectiveness from 2017-19 with the White Sox and Yankees. In those three years, Kahnle had a 3.67 ERA and 2.83 FIP in 165 games. He ranked 17th in FIP during that span among all MLB pitchers with at least 100 innings. Kahnle’s 35-percent strikeout rate in those three seasons ranked 10th.
Kahnle will make $3.45 million this season, and can earn a $250,000 bonus if he appears in 60 games. He can earn another $500,000 for getting into 70 games. Kahnle’s career high is 72 games pitched, in 2019. He also pitched in 69 games in 2017.
To make roster room for Kahnle, the Dodgers optioned Garrett Cleavinger to Triple-A Oklahoma City.
Cleavinger appeared in only two of his 17 games on the active roster. Both came in the eighth inning blowouts, with the Dodgers up five and eight runs. He allowed one run on three hits and two walks in 1⅔ innings, with two strikeouts.
The left-hander last pitched on April 24.