Pittsburgh Pirates: Max Kranick Could Provide Much Need Rotation Help

Sep 19, 2021; Miami, Florida, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Max Kranick (45) pitches against the Miami Marlins during the first inning at loanDepot Park. Mandatory Credit: Rhona Wise-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 19, 2021; Miami, Florida, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Max Kranick (45) pitches against the Miami Marlins during the first inning at loanDepot Park. Mandatory Credit: Rhona Wise-USA TODAY Sports /
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Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Max Kranick could provide the big rotation help the team desperately needs.

The Pittsburgh Pirates rotation has been the biggest culprit to the team’s losses so far. Entering play on Tuesday Pirate starters have a combined 6.50 ERA, 5.23 FIP, and 1.81 WHIP. It’s a small sample size, and their SIERA and xFIP sit below 5, but the point remains that the rotation has been a huge weak link for the Bucs.

The rotation has some potential upgrades, though. Roansy Contreras will come back in mid-May to take a rotation spot, and hopefully, Miguel Yajure can bounce back from a terrible start to the season and become a starter. But another young MLB-ready arm in Max Kranick could provide a helpful arm.

Kranick already made his MLB debut in 2021, tossing five perfect innings against the St. Louis Cardinals. But after that start, Kranick would go on to give up 27 earned runs in his next 33.2 innings of work. Although he ended the season with three solid starts, he still walked 14.3% of batters faced in those three starts, along with a strikeout rate hovering around 20%.

Kranick started the year on the injured list but is back to full strength, at least going by his velocity. So far, he only has 3.2 innings pitched and has given up three earned runs on three home runs. But the right-hander has racked up five strikeouts and hasn’t allowed a walk yet.

Although his overall bottom line isn’t great, Kranick has seen a massive boost in velocity. In his first start with Triple-A Indianapolis, Kranick’s fastball never dipped below 97 MPH and topped out at 99 MPH. For reference, his max fastball velo from 2021 was clocked at 97.1 MPH. His fastest thrown pitch from 2021 has so far been his slowest fastball in 2022.

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Kranick is one of the multiple potential long-term arms in the organization. Although the results aren’t there, the big increase in velocity and strikeouts is promising to see. If he can carry that velocity into the majors and across 4-5 innings, he could be a big help for the rotation within the next month.

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