Tommy Kahnle hitting IL makes Dodgers’ trade deadline even more important

Thomas Carannante
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - MAY 01: Tommy Kahnle #44 of the Los Angeles Dodgers pitches in the sixth inning against the Detroit Tigers at Dodger Stadium on May 01, 2022 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Meg Oliphant/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - MAY 01: Tommy Kahnle #44 of the Los Angeles Dodgers pitches in the sixth inning against the Detroit Tigers at Dodger Stadium on May 01, 2022 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Meg Oliphant/Getty Images) /
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Conveniently tucked away among other news on Tuesday, the Los Angeles Dodgers placed right-handed reliever Tommy Kahnle on the injured list with forearm tightness. He last pitched on May 13 agains the Philadelphia Phillies.

The obvious concern here is Kahnle’s longevity. He underwent Tommy John surgery late in the 2020 season, missed nearly two full years of action, and is now dealing with a potential issue in that same arm.

The Dodgers invested a considerable amount into a pitcher who was non-tendered and couldn’t play for at least a full season when they signed him to a two-year, $4.75 million contract with incentives (and guaranteed him $3.45 million in 2022). Those figures suggest the team was viewing him as an important bullpen piece this year.

But now, after missing the first month of the 2022 campaign and returning to pitch just four innings (one of which featured an ugly outing against the Pirates where he surrendered three earned runs on two homers in a loss), the Dodgers no longer have the luxury of waiting around for Kahnle to get back to full strength.

Assuming his latest issue sets him back and plays yet another role in preventing him from getting back to his former self, Los Angeles is going to have a lot of work to do at the trade deadline, especially with more uncertainty surrounding Blake Treinen and Clayton Kershaw.

Though Kahnle’s MRI results can change the trajectory here a bit, it’s still not encouraging to see someone who has thrown five total innings since the start of 2020 dealing with more arm issues.

Tommy Kahnle’s injury throws a wrench in the Dodgers’ plans

With Andrew Heaney also on the IL and making very slow progress, there’s no doubt Andrew Friedman will have his work cut out for him leading up to the Aug. 2 deadline. If Kershaw, Heaney, Treinen and Victor Gonzalez (underwent surgery) are all either recovering slower than expected or will miss up to half of the year, how can the Dodgers trust that uncertainty/lack of availability?

Not to mention, the starters aren’t exactly providing length (less than 5.1 innings per outing) and Craig Kimbrel, Daniel Hudson, Brusdar Graterol and Phil Bickford haven’t exactly been lights out. The Dodgers might need reinforcements in the form of trade acquisitions or prospects promoted from within.

Kahnle’s helped out very little, so most fans wouldn’t expect this to create some sort of detrimental strain, but he was supposed to pick up the slack in the event others performed or missed time.

If he’s not doing that, then somebody else needs to fill the innings, and finding someone of Kahnle’s caliber when he’s at full strength won’t be easy.

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