Believe me; I’m every bit as shocked as you are with that title… but hear me out.
Tommy Kahnle is one of the very best relievers in all of baseball right now. INSANE to think about.
Just a year ago he was plucked off the scrap heap from Colorado, and waddya know, Coop fixed ’em.
Let’s take a step back first. Tommy Kahnle is a kid who always had the god given combination of frame (6’1″, 225 pounds (and that seems light to me)) and arm strength (sits upper 90s and touches 100 regularly) that any power reliever would spooge themselves to possess. But but but… he never, ever had any resemblance of command when pitching. And that’s why, until this year, he’s kinda just been a bum that’s bounced between three organizations before he was 26 years old in spite of his god given hand cannon of an arm.
We talked about this on EP16 of Red Line Radio last week; there’s a huge difference between commanding a strike zone and having good control. It doesn’t matter how hard a pitcher can throw in the show; if a pitcher is serving up dickballs nonstop, he’s gonna get pissed on, even when throwing 100MPH. Yes, the harder one throws allows more room for error, but there’s no such thing as an effective pitcher who throws 100MPH fastballs down the dick with no feel for any secondary offering in the show. Those people will get a chance, but they won’t last. Not unless they learn command.
And Tommy Kahnle is the perfect example of a relief pitcher who has mastered his command of two/three pitches. Instead of missing way off the plate or right over the middle of it, he’s now hitting spots in all four quadrants of the zone at will:
“Pull the fucking string on him Stone Pony” – Hawk, probably
I know what you’re thinking: “But WSD you just cherrypicked a bunch of good pitches he threw you fat asshole!”
First of all –
A. Fuck you, I’m running a marathon in October and you’re not
B. I didn’t cherrypick shit. Kahnle has commanded his fastball with ease this year; his delivery is repeatable and his changeup motion is hardly, if at all, different from the motion of his fastball. This one two punch has been devastating on hitters this year. Couple Kahnle’s newfound command of two to three pitches (his slider is also nasty, though lesser used) with his linebacker build and you have yourself a really good goddamn reliever and possibly, should he prove he has the nuts for it, a future closer.
And again, I know what you’re thinking. “He’s only thrown 23 innings this year you idiot! He’s definitely bound for regression!”
Nope. Guess again. I can’t predict injury, but I can throw a bunch of advanced stats at you to prove you wrong. Here’s Kahnle’s Fangraph’s page for his 2017 season thus far:
There’s nothing that’s unsustainable about what he’s doing right now. His ERA, FIP, and xFIP are all nearly identical, so he hasn’t benefited from good defense. His BABIP is a paltry .292. I haven’t looked, but I’d guess that’s damn close to league average. His K/9, BB/9 and HR/9 are all about where you want them to be for a shutdown reliever.
And unless he suffers an injury in the next month, he very well could be playing for a World Series bound team. Relief pitchers go for insane premiums at the deadline. Now, my good friend Rick (Hahn) will have to convince teams that Kahnle isn’t just “hot” and that he’s actually “really fucking good” in negotiations, but that’s easy, all he needs to do is show them this blog.
I’m not saying he’s going to return a Miller/Chapman-like package, what I’m saying is should a team acquire him, the White Sox will net a piece they perceive to be a big league starter one day. Maybe a 1-1 or 1-2 type deal with a low org flyer attached.
It’s gonna be hilarious watching Kahnle pitch for like the Nationals or some shit in the World Series.
Coop fixed ’em. That dude could turn a pile of shit into Cy Young