Rox looking for Kahnle to stay tough on lefty hitters

Rox looking for Kahnle to stay tough on lefty hitters

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Rockies right-hander Tommy Kahnle faced three left-handed hitters while trying to protect a 1-0 lead against the Reds on Saturday. Despite what convention says, it was a matchup in Kahnle's favor.

Kahnle vanquished the Reds in order, retiring Donald Lutz with a strikeout to end the game. It was shades of Kahnle's 2014 campaign, when he held lefty batters to a .184 batting average with 33 strikeouts in 136 plate appearances. Kahnle was effective against righties, too, holding them to a .228 average, but his fastball-changeup mix worked better against the left-handers.

"It's a great mix with the velocity that he has, then that separation between the two pitchers and action of that changeup," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said.

Kahnle has worked this spring on a slider, but he didn't need it on Saturday.

"I faced three lefties, and the slider is not a big pitch against them," Kahnle said. "I will show it every once in a while. But mainly, I'm going to be sticking with fastball-changeup and I'll show a slider. But I'm working on the slider against righties.

"It could be a big weapon if I'm able to grasp it. Having another pitch has the hitter thinking more. My last appearance, I used it quite a bit and it's not bad. I still have a little work to do with it, but it's getting there."

Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, and like his Facebook page, Thomas Harding and Friends at www.Rockies.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.