Analysis

Yankees: Can David Hale Become a Viable Bullpen Weapon?

With Tommy Kahnle out with Tommy John Surgery, could the Yankees look to David Hale as a candidate to fulfill the injured Kahnle’s role?

The Yankees received some bad news on Friday, when it was announced that reliever and bullpen stalwart Tommy Kahnle was being placed on the IL with a right UCL injury, likely signaling Tommy John surgery, and, unfortunately, perhaps the end of Kahnle’s tender with the Bombers. In an article posted Saturday, August 1, it was wondered who would step up in the Yanks’ pen to relieve Kahnle’s absence. In the article, names like Jonathan Loaisiga and Nick Nelson (who had a very strong debut Saturday night against the Red Sox) were suggested, but perhaps the answer is more under-the-radar than the two previously-mentioned young guns.

Instead, veteran righty David Hale has proven in the past that he – although not dominant – can be a useful option in relief.

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Who is David Hale?

Hale, in short, is a journeyman. He was drafted by the Atlanta Braves in the 3rd round of the 2009 MLB Draft. He made his debut in 2013 and pitched his first complete season in 2014, where he had a 3.30 ERA, a 4.31 FIP, and a 4.61 xFIP (expected fielding independent pitching) in 87.1 innings. Since then, Hale has traveled to Colorado, Baltimore, Los Angeles, Korea, Minnesota, and New York, where he is now.

How has he Pitched for the Yankees?

While Hale was in Korea pitching in the KBO, Hale spotted a 4.34 ERA and a 4.65 FIP in 66.1 innings in 2018 (his only season in the KBO). Hale did pitch for the Yankees that season, too, but only threw 10.2 innings. Hale got his real shot with the Yankees in 2019, where he actually didn’t pitch too bad. His ERA was a career-best at 3.11 and his FIP was good, too, sitting at 3.32. However, his xFIP was cause for concern, leveling off at 4.58.

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The Yankees have shown a liking to Hale on more than one occasion, signing him to a minor-league deal on February 1 of 2019 following his stint with the Bombers, Twins, and in the KBO. The same happened a few months ago when the Bombers signed Hale this past February to a minors contract.

Sustainable Success?

The tricky thing with Hale is that although he pitched well last year, there’s no guarantee he can repeat that success this season. He’s only pitched 3.1 innings in 2020, and although he’s done well, it’s a very small sample size to go off of. Having said this, the Yankees have shown confidence in the righty, as they allowed him to get the save Saturday against the Red Sox. If his success continues, Hale may very well pitch some big innings in big games going forward.

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