COULD WE BE LOOKING AT THE 2016 COLORADO ROCKIES CLOSER? IF SO, THE YANKEES WILL BE KICKING THEMSELVES FOR A LONG TIME TO COME!
Rule 5 draft picks rarely make it in the majors. Year after year players end up with their original franchise when they fail to make the 25 man roster for the whole season. In recent years I think Luis Gonzalez made it with the Rox, and a reliever I can’t remember, but both never made a mark in Colorado. So when the Rox chose Kahnle from the pitching starved Yankees (who to be fair have a good pen), I didn’t dig too much. This wasn’t Dan Uggla kind of talent (the greatest Rule 5 player ever).
But then we started watching and hearing about his performance in Arizona. Yes, he still had bouts of wildness, the issue that kept him in the minors for the Yankees, but that arm was pretty awesome.
So who is Tommy Kahnle? Well lets read a scouting report on his 2014 season:
Although he has not thrown an MLB pitch in 2015, Tommy Kahnle threw 1,117 pitches that were tracked by the PITCHf/x system in 2014, including pitches thrown in the MLB Regular Season and Spring Training. In 2014, he relied primarily on his Fourseam Fastball (95mph), also mixing in a Change (88mph) and Slider (85mph). He also rarely threw a Cutter (94mph) and Sinker (96mph).
Basic description of 2014 pitches compared to other RHP:
His fourseam fastball has much less armside movement than typical, results in many more groundballs compared to other pitchers’ fourseamers and has slightly above average velo. His change is a real worm killer that generates an extreme number of groundballs compared to other pitchers’ changeups, generates a high number of swings & misses compared to other pitchers’ changeups and is much firmer than usual. His slider results in somewhat more groundballs compared to other pitchers’ sliders and has some two-plane movement. His cutter (take this with a grain of salt because he’s only thrown 3 of them in 2014) is thrown at a speed that’s borderline unfair, generates an extremely high number of swings & misses compared to other pitchers’ cutters, is an extreme flyball pitch compared to other pitchers’ cutters and has strong cutting action. His sinker (take this with a grain of salt because he’s only thrown 1 of them in 2014) is basically never swung at and missed compared to other pitchers’ sinkers, is an extreme flyball pitch compared to other pitchers’ sinkers, is blazing fast, has surprisingly little armside run and has little sinking action compared to a true sinker.
And this kid was stuck in the minors? We knew after the first week or so of the season that he wasn’t going to be heading back to the Yankees. Yes, he had some bad outings, and yes he was wild more than you want. But every reliever has bad nights. For Tommy the bad nights were really bad, elevating his top-line stats, but Tommy K was awesome at times.
His 2014 numbers look like this:
|54 app||68.2 inn||2-1||4.19 ERA||51 hits||7 HR||63:31 K/BB (2 IBB)||1.194 WHIP||8.3K/9|
|H app -26||31.2||1-0||5.68 ERA||27 hits||2 HR||34:17 K/BB||1.389 WHIP||9.7K/9|
|R app -28||37.0||1-1||2.92 ERA||24 hits||5 HR||29:14 K/BB (2 IBB)||1.027 WHIP||7.1K/9|
Any doubt that Tommy was a key part of the bullpen? There is probably a complaint that he wasn’t used enough on the road, but those are simply great stats. He did miss about 3 weeks with soreness in his shoulder, which is a worry. Before the injury he was at 3.43 ERA in 47 appearances and didn’t have the same sharpness when he came back (only 7 times out in September). In September he had his 2nd best K/9 rate of the season as 11.1 (August he was as 13.5), but was really hurt by bad luck, as he gave up a BABIP of .421 (before the soreness began in August he was holding hitters below .250 BABIP). But even with that late season hiccup, Kahnle looks like a keeper for the team. Most fans and commentators see Tommy as a future 7th or 8th inning reliever, instead of the 5th and 6th role he played alongside long relief. He was great in just about every stat you want to look at:
- Allowed only a .224 BA and .627 OPS with runners in scoring position.
- In 2 out and RISP he was devastating as in 45 plate appearances he allowed just 8 hits and 10 runs for a .182 BA and 495 OPS. He knows how to keep runs off the board, and runner on base for that matter.
- Did a good job of getting hitters to hit the ball on the ground, as they accounted for 46% of his non-strikeout Abs. That is a really good number, especially when combined with ability to get strikeouts.
- As a right-handed reliever you wonder how he handles the right/left split – with Tommy, no problem, as he allowed .228 BA and .683 OPS vs right and only .184 BA and .570 OPS to lefties. Outstanding
- Of his 54 outings he allowed 0 ER in 30 of them. Now that doesn’t seem really great, but 9 of those were in outings where he went more than 1 inning, which is a rare thing to ask from relievers in this game but with the Rox’s issues he had to go more than 1 inning most nights.
- He had really bad outings in 9 games, nights when he just wasn’t on, with 4 of those were in games around his shoulder injury (before or after). When healthy he generally avoided the really bad games that destroy your ERA. He had 4 of them before August and 5 after August 5. That tells you how much his injury matters.
- The big issue with Kahnle in the minors was wildness. He had 6 games in 54 outings that he had more than 1 walk (yes, even 1 walk can be damaging). Of those 3 were on or after the Aug 5 injury beginning. So when healthy he is sharp. Oh and in those 6 games with more than 1 walk, he had three of his worst games (4 ER, 3 ER, 4 ER). In his next to last outing, on September 18 he allowed 2 hits and 2 walks and 4 ER without an out. Ouch! His ERA went from 3.72 (great for a reliever) to 4.26. Ah, the perils of relieving.
Tommy was simply outstanding most nights for the Rockies. And I think we can officially call him a steal.
2014 Season Grade:
Home: B: Yes, his ERA at home was pretty bad, as was his WHIP, though his K/9 spiked at home to more than a batter per inning. But again, his shoulder started to bother him in early August and it was after that time he allowed 10 ER in just .2 innings (though he faced 11 batters). Yes, those still count against him, but eliminated those games and you have an ERA of