It wasn’t all that long ago that Blake Cederlind looked like the Pirates’ next potential closer. In 2019, Cederlind was the team’s best relief pitching prospect. He then made his Major League debut the following year, firing some upper-90s bullets in the small four-inning sample size in the shortened campaign.
Going into 2021, Cederlind was projected to take over a regular high-leverage role. But an early season Tommy John surgery eliminated him from 2021 entirely but didn’t rule 2022 out. However, Cederlind suffered even more setbacks, keeping him out for the rest of ‘22. It’s now been three years since the last time Cederlind pitched a worthwhile amount of innings, but Cederlind is now healthy.
Back in ‘19, Cederlind had a 2.28 ERA, 3.39 FIP, and 1.18 WHIP in 59.1 innings. The right-hander was not much of a strikeout pitcher with a 21.9% strikeout rate, nor was he excellent at preventing walks with a 9.6% walk rate. But Cederlind’s best pitch is his upper-90s sinker, which induces a ton of ground balls. He had a 48.4% GB%, leading to a 0.3 HR/9 rate.
Cederlind is reportedly fully healthy and was throwing BP in late February. The former top relief prospect is now 27 years old and multiple years removed from pitching a notable amount of innings. But if Cederlind hasn’t lost his velocity, he could find himself in a regular bullpen role next year. The Bucs’ bullpen is unstable, given the lack of proven arms, and Cederlind should get the opportunity to prove himself sometime next year.