Lifelong Mets fan Max Kranick starts bid for roster spot with ‘encouraging’ outing

With ace Kodai Senga set to start the year on the IL due to an ailing right shoulder, the Mets are going to be forced to lean into their starting pitching depth early on this season.

Tylor Megill, Joey Lucchesi, and Jose Butto are three of the top names who come to mind to slot into the starting rotation but right-hander Max Kranick is also a dark horse candidate to keep an eye on.

Kranick was claimed off waivers earlier this offseason from the Pittsburgh Pirates and he started his spring with a pair of perfect innings in Monday afternoon’s 6-3 win over the Washington Nationals.

“It was exciting to get back out there,” he said. “It was nice to be able to face a different uniform and get some of that adrenaline going. I thought I was efficient out there and it went really well, definitely encouraging.”

“He did a really good job,” Mets manager Carlos Mendoza added. “Before he got hurt he had really good stuff and then last year when he got back he was a little timid, so it was really good to see him attack the zone and the conviction he was throwing his pitches.”

Kranick’s been toying with a two-seam fastball in bullpen sessions throughout the offseason, which he feels can be a new weapon in his arsenal, so he was excited to be able to break it out in a game for the first time.

“The goal was to get some two-seams in there to lefties and I got some swings and misses, which was exciting. I’ve been working with it and continuing to throw with that grip, but the last thing is having conviction with it,” he said.

“Just going out there and gripping it and saying I’m going to drive this through the catcher and it's going to do what it’s going to do was a huge step. I’m excited to use it more, I think it’s going to open a lot of doors for me.”

Kranick is a former top prospect in the Pirates’ system, but he has just nine big-league appearances under his belt after he missed all of 2022 and the majority of last season after undergoing Tommy John surgery.

Now that he’s back healthy, though, the talented right-hander is looking to tap into some of that upside to help him scratch his way onto the Opening Day roster with the team he grew up rooting for.

"I love it here, I've really enjoyed my time so far," he said. "As long as I continue taking care of my little goals for the games things will work out. I’m just going to continue to control what I can control, pick and choose my reps, and just keep competing."