There’s no greater tradition than the rest of America’s baseball fans encountering the Los Angeles Dodgers in the postseason and realizing that while they were sleeping, LA has developed another few filthy bullpen weapons to carry them through the toughest month of the year.
In 2022 in particular, fans seemed excited to celebrate the Dodgers’ downfall, knowing full well that most of the back-end options they’ve become familiar with are no longer involved.
Victor González? Couldn’t make it. Joe Kelly? He’s in Chicago, brought in as a reinforcement for the supposed AL Central champions, but is currently watching the postseason from his couch. Craig Kimbrel? Literally left off the playoff roster! Blake Treinen’s back, but how back is he? How are the Dodgers possibly going to manage important late-game situations?
America is … not taking it well.
Dodgers bullpen relying on Yency Almonte and Tommy Kahnle, and that’s normal
To be fair to the rest of the nation, Almonte was a 7.55-ERA reliever in 47.2 innings with the Colorado Rockies in 2021. Then, according to The Athletic’s Fabian Ardaya, the Dodgers swiped him on a minor-league deal, axed the four-seam fastball, brought a sinker back to his arsenal from the deep past, and reshaped his slider in their pitching lab.
Boom. He’s disgusting now.
As for Kahnle, he was a bonafide Yankees star during the 2017 and 2019 seasons/postseason runs, but tore his UCL during his first appearance of the 2020 season, post-pandemic stoppage. The Dodgers were more than willing to wait out the changeup specialist, and though he didn’t contribute much during the regular season, he’s already been unleashed this October, whiffing three in a perfect inning in NLDS Game 2.
These men were, once upon a time, traded for each other. Now, they’re both filling unexpected roles for the 111-win Dodgers, emphasizing their best pitches and carving through the Padres.
Sorry to the rest of the league, but the Dodgers clearly have a repeatable internal formula here, and not every MLB team can pick up the same scraps and turn them into treasure.
Stay tuned for next spring’s next generation of unexpectedly dominant relievers. Hopefully, they’ll all be getting regaled by championship stories from Almonte and Kahnle.