Meet Tommy Kahnle: Why I Love Bobby Caldwell and Rockies Closers
“What you won’t do, you do for love.
You’ve tried everything, but you don’t give up.
In my world, only you, make me do for love what I would not do.”
For Fantasy owners fighting through the tall, thick grass that comes with winning a league title, the month of August, like the esteemed Mr. Caldwell professed back in 1978, makes us do things we never would have envisioned back in April. The mere thought of breaking what were once sacred vows sends an uneasy twinge in the back of our necks, followed by a flow of twists that finds a home deep into the pit of our stomachs.
“What you won’t do, you do for love......”
Such as banking your hopes on a Rockies closer.
How else to explain why Tommy Kahnle -- he of the 1.40 WHIP and 3.70 career ERA -- watches his ownership in polled mixed leagues rise 18 percent over the past week? With just two saves, Kahnle, who has gone nearly a week without an opportunity for a third save, joins DeAngelo Hall’s ankles, Megyn Kelly’s “eyes of blood” and Geno Smith’s unpaid plane ticket among the hottest topics around the Interwebs. In becoming the sixth Rockies pitcher to record a save this season, Kahnle has also become the unofficial poster boy for what happens to Fantasy owners upon the mere thought of unearthing a potential closer this time of year.
Let’s be straight here: this isn’t a “let’s poke fun at Tommy Kahnle” post, because when you take a deeper glance at his numbers, one begins to wonder why the Rockies never considered giving him the closer’s role in the first place, rather than entrusting the ninth inning to butane lighters like Jon Axford, Rafael Betancourt, Boone Logan and Scott Oberg.
Three of the biggest things I love are my country, Coca-Cola slushes and relief pitchers who average better than 10 strikeouts per nine innings. Kahnle more than satisfies my heart’s desire by sitting down 11.30 batters per nine, which has remained fairly constant with his numbers while toiling in the minors for the Yankees, who drafted him in the fourth round in 2010. One had to guess Kahnle was once considered a possible heir to the throne of Mariano Rivera, as he recorded 26 saves in his four years with the organization, including 15 in Double-A in 2013, while also averaging 11.10 K/9.
If you don’t want to wait for the spoiler as to why Kahnle is just now getting an opportunity to close in the bigs, just take a quick peek to your right on his Fangraphs profile, which is where you’ll see the number 5.97. That, my friends, would signify his walks per nine innings. Stop... now look again. 5.97 BB/9. Good grief.
“In my world, only you, make me do for love what I would not do.”
Before spending what little post-trade deadline FAAB bucks you have remaining or pushing the enter key to confirm your waiver wire bid for Kahnle, ask yourself just far are you willing to go to either close the gap in saves or to hammer down the top spot. Then again, you could also consider the current closer’s situation in Boston, which presents an entirely different subset of questions on the subject.
[caption id="attachment_96433" align="alignright" width="300"] Fantasy owners of Tommy Kahnle hope the Rockies' new closer leaves them smiling. Photo Credit: New Mexico Rob[/caption]
I’m suggesting Kahnle, if for no other reason being that he will also provide an extra kick into your strikeout totals. Saves might be few and far between (the Rockies are 47-65 entering Thursday, but I’m not telling anything you don’t already know), but if he keeps the walks down, this explicit little trip into the things we do for love just might pay off a few mornings down the road. Let’s just hope you won’t feel as dirty by then.
The rest of this week’s waiver wire wonders won’t make you feel sleezy, yet if you want to continue that feeling, I’m sure this just might help.....
Jean Machi, RP, Red Sox: Compared to Machi, Kanhle looks like Rollie Fingers in his prime (kids, Rollie Fingers was a relief pitcher who... oh, just ask your dad or uncle), yet his stock made like Pets.com, rising from 0.1 to 18 percent in the past week. All this for a pitcher who has a 5.22 ERA, 1.49 WHIP and strikes out hitters at a 6.35 K/9 clip. As of now, the Red Sox don’t have an official closer in the wake of Koji Uehara’s season-ending wrist injury, but don’t tell Fantasy owners, who obviously went in on Machi in the same reckless manner that comes from proposing to a blind date. He will get an opportunity to grab a save or two, but owners might consider Junichi Tazawa, whose numbers are more fit for the role despite blowing a save opportunity on Tuesday. When put into the context of their season, perhaps it might be best to simply avoid this matter all together.
Keyvius Sampson, RP/SP, Reds: Sampson wasn’t ranked among the organization’s Top 30 prospects, yet has pitched well enough to merit consideration in deeper leagues. Sampson began the season as a middle reliever in Triple-A, but has become intriguing after making his first two big league starts. He strikes out a batter per inning and sports a 0.92 WHIP since taking the departed Mike Leake’s spot in the Cincy rotation. The former Padres fourth round pick (2009) has shown good strikeout rates in the minors and earned his ticket to The Show despite a 5.08 BB/9 rate. His fastball and curve show considerable life, which is why Sampson’s current ownership rate of seven percent in polled mixed leagues could climb if he continues to form.
Danny Valencia, 1B/3B/OF, Athletics: Strange... since the Blue Jays traded Valencia at the deadline, they can’t stop winning while Valencia can’t stop hitting. Thursday marked the first game in which Valencia didn’t record a hit for his new team, for which he has hit three homers while driving in seven runs and scoring four. His ownership has taken a healthy boost, as it currently stands at 13 percent. I don’t know how long Valencia will maintain his isolated power at a .249 clip, but his multi-position eligibility is just as attractive as his current hitting streak. The moderate power has always been there, so there’s little reason to act surprised at his recent surge of pop.
Jose Peraza, 2B, Dodgers: The true gem in the deadline trade with the Braves, the club’s second-ranked prospect made his debut on Monday after Howie Kendrick was placed on the DL. He’s 2-for-7 thus far, but as long as Peraza is on the roster, he should be considered in deeper leagues and even for standard league owners in need of late-season speed. Currently owned in eight percent of leagues, all you need to know about Peraza is that he grades 70/70 in speed according to scouts and that he had 203 steals in the minors. And yes, we’re also wondering who would win a race between he and Billy Hamilton.
Chase Utley, 2B, Phillies: Most of us never imagined it would come to this for Utley, but there’s still some life left in his fading bat. He’s hit .411 (7-for-17) since coming off the DL, and while that .196 batting average is hard to look at for most, Utley’s ownership has now climbed to 12 percent. This could be an audition of sorts for Utley, as his post-DL numbers are beginning to attract the attention of playoff contenders. He’s a bat to watch for this month, because if Utley has the chance of playing meaningful games in September, now is the time to grab him.
Jesus Montero 1B/DH, Mariners: This is for the AL-only crowd, yet Montero is an interesting play in deeper leagues or for those of us who feel like going back to 2011, when Montero was costing arms and legs to acquire what we once thought would be the second coming of Edgar Martinez. Owned in four percent of polled leagues, Montero is hitting .289-2-9 since being recalled from Triple-A. He’s only 25, so there is still a slender chance Montero could emerge as a productive Fantasy option. For now, proceed with a hint of caution and scoop him up.
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