Tag Archives: Tommy Kahnle

White Sox Send Jennings to Rays, Call Up Bummer

Another day, another trade on the South Side.

As part of the White Sox’s effort to continue their swift rebuild plans, the club moved yet another piece on Thursday morning in reliever Dan Jennings. He was sent to the Tampa Bay Rays for OF Casey Gillaspie, brother of former White Sox third baseman, Conor. Gillaspie is a switch-hitting first baseman who was the Tampa Bay Rays No. 10 prospect according to MLB.com. He has hit .227 with 15 doubles, nine home runs and 44 RBIs in Triple-A Durham this season.

Gillaspie is on the DL after breaking his big toe on Tuesday and will be placed on the DL by Charlotte. The injury should only sideline Gillespie one or two weeks.

With this move, Jennings became the fourth reliever traded by the White Sox in just eight days.

“You know that term ‘sellers’ is thrown around a lot,” Jennings said before Wednesday’s game. “And you never want to think of it that way, because whoever is here whoever that may be, is going to do everything in their power to win every game despite the situation.”

Jennings certainly had some noticeable trepidation in his voice as he spoke to the media less than 24 hours prior to the trade and for good reason. He was next in the line of falling dominos of this aggressive rebuild process.

Jake Petricka, the only reliever left who was on the White Sox Opening Day roster, spoke on the situation.

“Up here, no,“ Petricka said when asked if he’d ever seen such quick bullpen turnaround. “In the minors, yes. I mean there goes those phases when the new draftees come in and faces turnover but, it’s a little different up here. But again it’s a good thing and a bad thing.”

Unlike Todd Frazier, Tommy Kahnle, and David Robertson, Jennings was not afforded final words with his teammates before he departed to his new team. “No, that was through text message,” Petricka said of his goodbyes to Jennings. “It’s one of those things, like I said, you wait for that call and then you get it and you’re gone. Unless you’re in the locker room like Todd and Tommy and D-Rob were, we don’t really get a chance to say goodbye to them, which makes it kind of hard but it’s the nature of the business.”

Jennings pitched 44.1 innings this season with the White Sox to the tune of a 2.45 ERA and struggled with the long ball this season; he gave up six home runs and held a 24 percent HR/FB rate. Guaranteed Rate Field being a friendly hitters ballpark likely contributed to the Jennings’ struggle with fly balls leaving the yard.

Despite the somber atmosphere surrounding the clubhouse after losing two games in a row to the Cubs, as well as a handful of teammates, the mood was anything but somber for new reliever Aaron Bummer. Bummer was called up to the majors from Charlotte for the first time in his career to take Jennings’ place in the bullpen.

“I was getting food last night in Charlotte and Steve McCatty came over and grabbed me, took me out of the food line into our manager’s office,” Bummer said of when he was informed of the call up. “He told me what was happening, and I just sat there with a dumbfounded smile on my face, not really knowing what to expect, just spitting out gibberish. It’s a moment I’ll never forget. I thank the White Sox and everybody for this opportunity.”

Bummer, wide eyed and bushy-tailed, stated how exciting this moment was for him and his family.

“My parents were sleeping and woke up right away and they bought a plane ticket for tonight,” Bummer said. “The next person I called was my girlfriend and she started bawling immediately. So it was a whole bundle of emotions for all of us. It was an awesome experience.”

Bummer, who has put together a 2.84 ERA between Double-A Birmingham and Triple-A Charlotte, said that Jennings was a mentor for him during the time that they spent together in Spring Training.

“One of the guys who helped me out a lot was Dan Jennings,” Bummer said before Thursday’s game. “It’s kind of bittersweet to know it was a give and take. He kind of took me under his wing a little bit and learned the routine. He was a real big help for me and it’s one of those things I take a lot of pride in that routine.”

Making your Major League debut despite the state of the club you’re coming to is still an experience, and it isn’t short of a small case of the nerves for Bummer. “The sooner we get to this debut, I’ll be a little bit more at ease and things will be a little bit easier.” Bummer said.

While the White Sox rebuild is beginning to hit it’s stride as the trade deadline approaches, today was anything but a “bummer” for the White Sox new young reliever.

Garcia Hits the DL, Sox Send Swarzak to Milwaukee

After a scorching start that gave many South Siders hope for his future, White Sox All-Star right fielder Avisail Garcia will hit the DL with a ligament strain in his right thumb. Garcia said the issue has been bothering him for about a week now and, as he continued to play through it, he realized it was an issue that needed to be addressed.

“It’s been like this one week and getting worse, worse, worse,” Garcia said before Wednesday’s Crosstown Classic took the stage at Guaranteed Rate Field. “So, that’s why I decided to stop because my swing is not the same and I don’t want to keep playing like this.”

White Sox GM Rick Hahn made the announcement prior to Wednesday’s game, and said that it should sideline Garcia for “a couple of weeks.” The injury doesn’t look to require surgery at this time.

“At this point there’s no indication whatsoever that he needs a procedure,” Hahn said. “It’s just a matter of letting the thumb heal and getting him back out there.”

Garcia pointed out his recent struggles and attributed them to the lingering injury. “You could see yesterday, 0-for-5,” Garcia said about Tuesday’s matchup at Wrigley Field.

“I’ve been swinging too much with my shoulders. Trying to force it. I don’t have to force it,” Garcia said. “If something’s wrong I have to stop because I want to help my team. I don’t want this to happen. But it happened. That’s baseball. Anything can happen so I’ve just got to take care of this and be back and ready.”

Garcia is coming off the first All-Star selection of his career and a strong campaign in which he was hitting .303/.347/.485 with a career-tying 13 home runs. He was also was sporting the highest wRC+ of his career at 121.

The White Sox will be making a corresponding roster move with Garcia headed for the DL which will be announced either Wednesday evening or Thursday.

The familiar faces in the South Side clubhouse continue to dwindle as the trade deadline nears with the most recent departure coming on Tuesday evening. The White Sox sent reliever Anthony Swarzak to the Milwaukee Brewers in exchange for outfield prospect Ryan Cordell.

“We feel we picked up another interesting prospect in Ryan,” Hahn said of the acquisition. “Scouts are very enthusiastic about his ability, his diverse skill set. He’s got some power, some speed, some versatility on the field, can play all three outfield positions. He does have some history of playing some third base as recently as this year. And he’s going to provide us with an intriguing player here in the coming months,” he continued.

Cordell is currently on the disabled list with a back strain that will likely keep him from seeing action right away.

“We’re going to have him examined by our doctors in Chicago, but we feel like this is probably going to take another few weeks to resolve,” Hahn said. “And there’s a chance that we don’t see him in action till closer to instructional league. But in terms of long-term prognosis, this injury should be a non-factor in his development, and we look forward to having him in action.”

Swarzak, who had a spectacular final outing as a member of the White Sox at Wrigley Field on Monday in which he struck out two batters and walked one, was one of the final remaining pieces in the White Sox bullpen which now only has two members that were present on the Opening Day roster.

“Yeah, it’s a little sad, when you see friends and teammates go,” reliever Dan Jennings said of the recent bullpen depletion. “You don’t want to sit here and say it’s the end of the road because we still have a lot of games to play and we’re still going to do our best to win every game.”

Swarzak certainly was deemed a valuable asset this season for a team looking for a closer such as the Brewers. In 48 innings of work this season, Swarzak put up a 2.23 ERA with a nearly-matching 2.34 FIP. He was striking out 9.68 batters per nine, walking just 2.41, and had allowed just two home runs.

A familiar face returned to the clubhouse Wednesday as reliever Jake Petricka was activated from the disabled list to help shore up the White Sox bullpen. Petricka has been on the DL since June 29 with a right elbow strain.

“It has been a mental grind especially with the hip injury last year,” Petricka said of his string of injuries. “So, if anything, I’ve just learned a lot more about myself off the field then on the field. And now it’s time to re-establish myself on the field.”

Petricka was not scored on over five outings during his rehab assignment at Triple A Charlotte. “It felt really good. A lot better command and just everything was very good,” Petricka said of his rehab assignment.

Manager Rick Renteria noted that he will be using Petricka in later innings to help fill the gap left by the departure of Tommy Kahnle, David Robertson and now Swarzak.

“Obviously, Petricka has been used in the past in many different roles from kind of a fireman role to a setup to closer,” Renteria said. “So we’re just going to kinda slot these guys where we think we can use them. Obviously everybody is available to us in different situations, we have an opportunity right now to show what they’re capable of doing.”

White Sox Send Frazier, Robertson, Kahnle to Yankees; Call up Moncada

Out with the old, in with the new.

That’s certainly the phrase for the White Sox on Tuesday as they turned over their lineup, sending veterans Todd Frazier, David Robertson, and breakout reliever Tommy Kahnle to the Yankees in return for Tyler Clippard and three prospects while also announcing that Yoan Moncada will be called up to join the Major League club for Wednesday’s game against the Dodgers at Guaranteed Rate Field.

The White Sox will deplete their bullpen by dealing away Robertson and Kahnle, but shore up the loss by adding Tyler Clippard in what will likely be the closing role. Clippard has struggled with the Yankees this season, with a walk rate of 4.71 per nine and a HR/FB percentage of 14.6. Clippard is currently striking out 10.40 batter per nine.

The return the White Sox received from the Bronx included outfielder Blake Rutherford, the No. 3 prospect in the Yankees system, left-hander Ian Clarkin and outfielder Tito Polo.

The centerpiece of this deal is certainly 20-year-old Blake Rutherford. “Blake is a guy who was very high on our draft boards,” Hahn said of Rutherford. “We debated him right up through our pick last year.” Rutherford is the No. 36 prospect overall according to MLB.com. “I don’t like putting comps on players but we do view him as having an extremely high ceiling and a guy who when we start looking around at Eloy Jimenez, Luis Robert and Yoan Moncada. He fits into that potential mold of a potential high-impact offensive player who potentially can also help you defensively,” Hahn said. Rutherford hit .281 while with the Yankees Class A Charleston team.

Ian Clarkin, 22, was ranked as the Yankees No. 19 prospect according to MLB.com and was in Class A Tampa where he had a 2.62 ERA over 75 IP with 58 strikeouts. He comes with a long injury history but has a good mix of pitches that include an above-average breaking ball and a fringe-average changeup that could be interesting in use as a long reliever if Clarkin doesn’t make the starting rotation in the future. The White Sox have a long track record of keeping their pitching healthy, so perhaps the injuries are not a major concern for the organization.

Tito Polo, 22, was the mystery fourth piece in the deal. “Tito Polo is a center fielder who has gotten off to a torrid start in CF,” Hahn said. “He can run a little bit and swing.” Polo came to the Yankees in August of 2016 as the player to be named later in the Ivan Nova trade with Pittsburgh. Polo was a resident at both High-A Tampa and Double A Trenton in the Yankees system this season, where he hit nearly .300 between the two affiliates and had an OBP of .365 in Double A.

It was nothing short of an exciting day on the South Side with the Dodgers being in town and rolling out Clayton Kershaw, the addition of more prospects to bulk up their flourishing minor league system and, oh, let’s not forget about Moncada. He’ll be on the South Side on Wednesday.

Notes at the Break

Each baseball season brings a clean slate in April and, by mid-July, sometimes the world feels as though it’s been turned upside down. That seems to be the case this season, especially for a young group of South Siders, who have found themselves in the midst of a season that was suppose to propel them into “total rebuild mode” full of lows, yet hasn’t been without it’s fair share of highs.

As we enter into the official second half of the 2017 season this weekend — let’s take a look at the three most surprising outcomes the White Sox have witnessed over the first half of the season.

All-Star Avi

Coming into the season, White Sox fans had heard the same tale over again. Avisail Garcia looks good, he’s lost some weight, he’s going to have a breakout year. The tape felt broken and so did White Sox fan’s hope for any sort of success out of the promising Venezuelan star entering his age 26 season.

But as it stands at the All-Star Break, Garcia has flourished, showing the longest stretch of consistency the White Sox have seen out of him since he came to the South Side. He’s in the top 10 of AL hitters (min. 300 PA) in batting average, and in the top 20 in OBP and slugging percentage. He’s also sporting his lowest strikeout rate since 2012. The downside? Garcia is clinging tightly to that high BABIP of .371, indicating that a lot of the production that the White Sox are seeing from Garcia could be chalked up to good luck. The good luck has lasted, however. Garcia also has the second lowest walk rate on the team, at just 4.1 percent. But hey, it’s working!

Kahnle Reinvented

Let’s keep in mind that now superstar bullpen arm Tommy Kahnle didn’t even break camp with the White Sox this season. His control issues continued to rear their ugly head, but due to injury to Sox righty Jake Petricka, Kahnle found himself called up in the midst of making a few noteworthy changes on the mound that lead to huge success. Kahnle always had the heat, he just wasn’t able to harness it. He claims he moved his head toward home plate during his delivery, made a few tweaks with his legs and, boom. It’s the All-Star Break and Kahnle is still sporting a 2.65 ERA in 34 innings pitched. It gets better though. Kahnle’s FIP is currently sitting at 1.56 — good enough to land him at third best in the AL behind Craig Kimbrel and Roberto Osuna. He’s also striking out 15 batters per nine and walking just under two—a far cry from the Kahnle baseball had seen in years past. Sometimes small mechanical tweaks are the key to extraordinary success, and Kahnle has certainly proven that to be true in 2017.

The Matt Davidson Show

After an unfortunate accident in which Matt Davidson fractured his right foot during his major league debut last June, Davidson noted that while rehabbing he had a lot of time to think about his approach at the plate and make some changes.

The high hopes that many had for the young third base prospect began to dwindle as the seasons passed down in Charlotte and Davidson wasn’t able to sustain healthy enough results to merit a spot in the big league roster. Davidson is now 72 games into his first full season in the majors, and if you’d told folks that in 2017 he’d be leading this White Sox team in home runs while holding onto a steady place in the lineup — they simply might not have believed you.

But Davidson leads the team with 18 home runs and, while his batting line is quite lopsided, sitting at just .245/.284/.515, he’s still hitting the ball over the fence with regularity that’s been to the White Sox’s benefit—including a streak in which he homered in four straight games. The downside? Plain and simple — that 41 percent strikeout rate he’s sporting. Eventually teams will learn to adjust to Davidson’s sweet spot, and the home run fest will come to a halt. Unfortunately when that day comes, there isn’t much left to prop of Davidson’s success.

There have been a lot of surprises on the South Side in 2017, including a plethora of starting pitching injuries (something the White Sox are not used to) and the always exciting presence of the talent that’s down on the farm. Perhaps the biggest moment that the White Sox are waiting to roll out though? The arrival of number one prospect Yoan Moncada. Fans will have to wait just a little while longer for that treat, though.

How Tommy Kahnle Re-Invented Himself

The White Sox bullpen has had familiar faces in the bullpen with Nate Jones and David Robertson the past few years but, like any other major league club, there are a few names that move between the minors and majors, filling in spots, hoping to throw a few strikes and perhaps even reinvent themselves.

Over the course of 2016, Tommy Kahnle was almost never talked about amongst most fans. That’s fine; not everyone can be a superstar. But in 2017, Tommy Kahnle is now the guy everyone is talking about. And I don’t just mean in Chicago either. Yes, that’s how drastic of a step forward Kahnle has taken in just a few short weeks of baseball. Baseball that he wasn’t even aware he would be playing. Kahnle started the season in Triple-A Charlotte; he didn’t even break camp with the major league roster. In fact, the 27-year-old, formerly a part of both the Yankees and Rockies organizations, was only brought up to fill the shoes of the injured Jake Petricka.

What a case of serendipity this has been for the White Sox, who were surely just expecting to see the same Kahnle they’d seen before with spotty command and a few bad outings in Arizona. Wrong.

The White Sox bullpen has been strong so far in 2017 and Kahnle has been a big part of it despite only throwing nine innings. Take a look at these numbers to see just how good the White Sox relievers have been so far:



MLB Rank













The White Sox currently lead baseball in ERA and, for more context, they’re leading the league in DRA as well. That indicates the production coming out of the bullpen is not simply flukey baseball stuff or good defense coming to the rescue. The biggest concern is the walk rate—good for just middle of the pack. Without Kahnle, who has only walked one batter on the season so far, the Sox would likely rank even lower.

The reason is because Kahnle used to walk guys. He walked a lot of guys. His walk rate was 18.1 percent when he was with the Rockies. The incredible 3 percent walk rate Kahnle is posting so far in 2017 is of course not quite sustainable long term but, when you watch Kahnle, you can see his stuff looks like it’s here to stay. He’s found his command of the strike zone.

Kahnle is aware that the difference has been huge, yet the changes he’s made have been relatively small. “Everybody knows my fastball command is a little spotty sometimes. I made a few adjustments with my legs, I should say kinda my delivery, it seemed to work,” Kahnle told White Sox Weekly on WLS. “It was more of a shortened leg kick, I guess.”

Kahnle also attributed his recent success to keeping his head turned more toward home plate as he throws. “I usually have tendency to fall off. I worked towards those two things and it’s starting to work.” Kahnle said.

Not only has the ability to repeat his delivery with pinpoint command lead him to a 1.00 ERA and a -0.89 FIP (yes, negative FIP is possible), but he’s actually added velocity to his pitches across the board. Kahnle has seen his average fastball velocity tick up by 2 mph. His changeup and slider have gone up by nearly 5 mph each (sitting at 91 mph and 93 mph, respectively.)

According to PITCHf/x, Kahnle currently had the fifth-highest velocity among relievers this year. That has him ranked alongside pitchers like Aroldis Chapman, Trevor Rosenthal and even ranked above Boston closer Craig Kimbrel. Of those top five in the velocity rankings, Kahnle currently holds the best whiff percentage at 34.8 percent.

It’s well-known throughout baseball that White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper is a mechanical wizard. And though he isn’t much of a numbers guy (In a conversation we had once, Cooper referred to sabermetrics as “the sabermetrics”), Cooper does proves that numbers aren’t everything. Mechanical adjustments can take a pitcher from ranking as a poor strike thrower one year to what Tommy Kahnle is now with just a couple of tweaks. Because the success Kahnle is seeing right now is mechanically based and not simply a ton of luck breaking his way or a poor quality of opponents, folks can rest assured that this Kahnle 2.0 we are seeing may be here to stay. If he is, the White Sox stumbled on quite a beneficial dose of happenstance.

The White Sox Bullpen has been Nails

We’re closing in on a month of baseball. We can still say “It’s early,” but that window is closing. Trends are starting to solidify. Themes are starting to build. You get the point.

There is nothing so volatile in baseball as the bullpen so even making this observation is, perhaps, foolhardy but… The White Sox bullpen has been nails.

Let’s start from the back. David Roberston has thrown 7.2 innings, recorded five saves in five chances, struck out 13 of 29 batters faced and holds a WHIP of .783. He’s produced like the David Robertson of old. Or, at least, not the 2016 version. While Nate Jones seemed to take a few outings to round back into form, he’s achieved his requisite nastiness. If you take Jones’ first three outings (3.1 IP, 4 BB, 2 ER, .364 BA) and toss them by the wayside, his numbers look a lot like Robertson’s. Eight and a third innings, a 1.08 ERA, 14 strikeouts in 33 batters faced. Anthony Swarzak has been a revelation. Not only has he struck out over a third of the batters he’s faced (14 of 38), he’s walked exactly one hitter. He put up a stretch of 18 consecutive hitters retired. He’s given length to the ‘pen by pitching multiple innings in five of his eight outings. Considering the White Sox rotation has had some shorter (albeit decent enough) starts from Derek Holland and James Shields, getting length out the pen has been necessary. With Shields joining Carlos Rodon on the DL and Mike Pelfrey working to get back into shape and deeper in games, length is even more than that.

And let’s not leave out Tommy Kahnle. He’s striking out 18/9 IP. That’s bananas. Kahnle and I talked last Saturday on White Sox Weekly about the mechanical changes he’s made to his delivery. There are a few small tweaks that have helped him throw strikes at a far, far higher rate than ever before. Couple that with his velocity ticking up into the triple digits and you’ve got an arm that even the big national writers can’t ignore.

Seriously. Check it out. This is big-time, smart baseball stuff: http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/the-white-sox-have-had-one-of-the-best-pitchers-on-the-planet/

The Sox bullpen isn’t even healthy. They lost Jake Petricka to a lat strain after just one outing and Zach Putnam is back on the DL with an elbow issue. There’s no telling when either will be back. Putnam was part of the Nails Brigade while he was healthy, however. His performance (8.2 IP, .346 WHIP) speaks for itself but his ability to pitch to right or left handed batters made the bullpen more versatile.

Like all “It’s early” observations, this one comes with the same caveat: They probably can’t all keep this up. These are staggering rates at an individual level. Having them all in the same bullpen? Even more so. Baseball will turn even the most heart-warming story into a mid-June fizzle but, for now, the White Sox bullpen has been nails.