Pittsburgh Pirates: Max Kranick Could Help The Pitching Staff Now

Max Kranick is back in action, and could assist the pitching staff in the very near future.
May 11, 2022; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA;  Pittsburgh Pirates relief pitcher Max Kranick (45)
May 11, 2022; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates relief pitcher Max Kranick (45) / Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Pittsburgh Pirates pitching prospect Max Kranick is back in action, and he could soon help bolster the pitching staff as we head into the home stretch of 2023

The Pittsburgh Pirates pitching depth was on thin ice by mid-May. Out of the gates, they were going to be without JT Brubaker until at least mid-2024 because of Tommy John surgery. Top pitching prospect Mike Burrows followed soon after with his own TJ surgery mere weeks later. Veteran signee Vince Velasquez started the year on the highest note of his career thus far but missed most of May before undergoing UCL surgery in early June.

One of the pitchers the Pirates knew they would be without for a while was Max Kranick. Kranick had undergone the same surgery that both Brubaker and Burrows did this year but in June 2022. However, the 26-year-old is back on the bump and at Triple-A. He could soon help bolster the Pirates’ pitching staff down the line.

Kranick made his first Triple-A appearance of the season, pitching 2.2 innings, striking out four, and only allowing a single walk. This was after three scoreless innings at Bradenton, where he struck out two and only allowed two hits. Overall, that gives Kranick 5.2 scoreless innings over his last two appearances.

Kranick hasn’t regained the velocity uptick he showed off last season. Going into 2022, Kranick showed some promise with an improved fastball sitting 94-97 MPH. However, in his most recent game, Kranick was averaging just 92.2 MPH, which is about 2 MPH slower than in 2021 when he debuted. Kranick has also been using a cutter and favoring his slider over his fastball.

Still, Kranick could help out the Pirates’ pitching depth right now. The Pirates have sort of piggy-backed Thomas Hatch and Bailey Falter, with Osvaldo Bido, Andre Jackson, and Ryan Borucki also working in tandem in opener/piggyback roles. Kranick might not be a top-of-the-line pitching prospect like Paul Skenes, Jared Jones, or Anthony Solometo, though he could help bolster the starting pitching depth and add another arm the Pirates could turn to for multiple innings of work, either out of the bullpen or in an opener/long relief post opener role.

The Pirates have seemingly been able to do pretty well with openers and piggy-backed starts thus far. When used in the right way, Jackson, Bido, and Hatch haven’t been terrible for the Pirates. Kranick, even if he isn’t used in a traditional starting pitcher role or bullpen role, could still give the Pirates some solid innings.

Kranick returning from his injury gives the Pirates some much-needed insurance. Losing three pitchers at the start of the year was a massive blow to the depth chart, and having a fourth still recovering from surgery from the previous season only compounded things. However, Kranick is now back and hasn’t done bad either through his first few rehab games. Maybe it’s time to give Kranick a few Major League outings and have him help assist pitchers like Jackson, Bido, Falter, and Hatch in getting through games.