Tommy Kahnle Wants To ‘Build On’ Encouraging Dodgers Debut

The Los Angeles Dodgers activated Tommy Kahnle from the 10-day injured list prior to the series finale against the Detroit Tigers, which came as a mild surprise.

The right-hander spent most of April on a rehab assignment with Triple-A Oklahoma City and Low-A Rancho Cucamonga, and was expected to make a final tune-up appearance on Sunday. It was the lone remaining hurdle for Kahnle, who had previously cleared a key one by pitching back-to-back days last week.

But the Dodgers believed Kahnle was healthy and trusted his fastball command was sharp enough after pitching 6.1 innings during eight rehab games (three starts). Kahnle allowed two runs and collected seven strikeouts against against one walk during that span.

He was the first relief pitcher called on after Walker Buehler completed five innings, and Kahnle proceeded to turn in an encouraging Dodgers debut. The 32-year-old was excited to be back in a Major League game but controlled his emotions and now wants to use the game as a springboard, via SportsNet LA:

“I was very excited. It was a pretty special day. It’s been a while, but I treated it like any normal day I have in the past six or seven years I’ve been up here. It was fun to get back out there and finally be a part of the team. … To come out with the outing I had was great today, but I’m going to try to build on this and keep it going in the future.”

Kahnle’s fastball velocity got up to 97 mph and he paired it with a changeup that had plenty of movement while coming out of the same tunnel. Kahnle retired the side in order, which included beginning his appearance with consecutive strikeouts.

The game was his first since pitching for the New York Yankees on July 26, 2020. It was followed by undergoing season-ending Tommy John surgery that also cost Kahnle all of 2021.

Kahnle’s role with Dodgers

When the Dodgers signed Kahnle to a two-year contract in December 2020, it was with an intent to rely on him as a high-leverage relief pitcher this season.

Manager Dave Roberts reiterated that expectation — particularly with Blake Treinen on the IL — but said the team would likely ease Kahnle into late-game situations.

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