There’s always room in the bullpen for another power arm, especially one that doesn’t feature many. That’s why Tommy Kahnle’s scoreless inning against the Indians Tuesday – in which he averaged 99 mph and touched 100 according to BrooksBaseball (and with some cutting action as well) — was encouraging, not only to the Sox but to the right-hander with 90 games of experience with the Colorado Rockies.
Acquired from the Rockies for Class A right-hander Yency Almonte in November, Kahnle, 26, averaged 4.1 and 7.6 walks per nine innings in Colorado in 2014 and 2015 while pitching to ERAs of 4.19 and 4.86. At AAA Charlotte this year, he walked four and struck out 18 over 16 1/3 innings (with a 2.76 ERA).
“As long as I’m throwing strikes I’m feeling more confident,’’ said Kahnle, who was called up Monday and came back after Tuesday night’s outing to contribute 1 1/3 scoreless innings. “In the past I’ve struggled to throw strikes at times and my confidence level just evaporates. It’s actually nice to be able to throw strikes this year.’’
After the Sox acquired him, pitching coach Don Cooper noticed Kahnle had been collapsing on his back side. That became a point of emphasis, and Kahnle also incorporated a “pat” of the glove with the ball before breaking his hands (a la Jered Weaver) in his delivery “to get my hands on time with my arm out,’’ he said.
Kahnle knows his command will make or break him, and it’s a battle he’s familiar with. At the least, Tuesday’s outing made for a nice U.S. Cellular Field debut. He touched 98 on Wednesday and didn’t allow a baserunner while recording a strikeout.
“The whole year I’ve been around that velo,’’ said Kahnle, who averaged 95-96 with the Rockies. “As long as my arm feels good and I don’t try to overthrow I feel like it will come out good every time.’’