The Pittsburgh Pirates will have a handful of returning players from 2021. But what does next season hold for these three starting pitchers?
The 2021 Pittsburgh Pirates were not the most exciting team to watch in baseball. They finished with a 61-101 record. They should see some improvement in 2022 given that some of their best prospects will see some decent bit of time in the major leagues. Roansy Contreras, Oneil Cruz, Travis Swaggerty, Miguel Yajure, Diego Castillo, Rodolfo Castro, Mason Martin, and Omar Cruz could be part of the roster by June. Later in the summer, you may see guys like Ji-Hwan Bae, Carmen Mlodzinski, and Canaan Smith-Njigba.
But there will be a handful of players returning to the Pirates in 2022 from the 2021 team. Most of the returning players will be pitchers. The team has a handful of arms that threw for the 2021 team and should be part of the 2022 roster.
So let’s take a look at a few arms that should be on the 2022 roster and get a potential chance to start next season.
The Pittsburgh Pirates promoted Max Kranick early into the 2021 season. After a handful of solid starts between Double-A and Triple-A Kranick came up and fired 5 perfect innings against the division rival St. Louis Cardinals. The only reason he didn’t pitch more innings was that his outing was cut short by an unfortunate rain delay that caused him to get yanked from the game.
Though he wasn’t able to replicate anything similar to his strong outing after that. In Kranick’s next 8 starts, he would reach 5 innings pitched just twice and gave up fewer than 3 earned runs once. All told, his final 33.2 innings yielded 27 earned runs. He had a solid 1.07 HR/9 rate during these starts, but a poor 17.4% strikeout and 11.4% walk rate.
There were a few positives as he had an opponent exit velocity of 88.2 MPH and a 33.9% hard-hit rate. Both are slightly above the league average rate. Kranick currently ranks as the team’s 35th best prospect. Not too shabby given the depth of the Pirate system.
The right-hander throws four offerings: a four-seam fastball, slider, curveball, and change-up. His fastball saw an uptick in velocity at the alternative site last year and averaged out around 94 MPH. All four pitches are considered to have average potential by FanGraphs. Throughout the minor leagues, Kranick was not a very big strikeout guy, but he was decent at limiting walks and his biggest strength was preventing the home run.
Kranick will definitely get a shot to start the year in the rotation. He could be a solid back of the rotation type of starter, sort of a right-handed Tyler Anderson. He’s a guy that has the potential to go out and give you 5 solid innings. I also think he may see some time out of the bullpen. If Yajure, Contreras, and Cruz look solid, and eventually Mlodzinski joins the team in June/July, then Kranick may end up getting a few pen outings. His stuff may also play up out of the pen.