Mets pitching depth takes hit as Max Kranick goes down with hamstring strain

Abbey Mastrancco, New York Daily News on

Published in Baseball

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — The Mets are getting thin on starting pitching already.

Right-hander Max Kranick was diagnosed with a Grade 2 hamstring strain Thursday. He’ll be shut down for 7-10 days before he’s allowed to resume his progression. The Mets expect him to join Kodai Senga on the injured list at the start of the season.

“It’s another hit,” manager Carlos Mendoza said Thursday afternoon in the Cacti Park of the Palm Beaches dugout. “We’ve been talking about our depth since we showed up in camp. Now, we’ve had Senga early in camp, and now Max. But I see it as an opportunity for other guys.”

The depth behind Senga always felt more questionable than endless. While Kranick wasn’t expected to make the Opening Day roster, he had a shot. He was being stretched out as a starter to bolster the group’s depth, expected to make starts at the big leave level when needed. His injury will have a domino effect at the Triple-A level.

The Mets figure they’ll need about 10 starting pitchers throughout the season. They used 10 last season and 11 in 2022. Behind Senga is Jose Quintana, Luis Severino, Sean Manaea and Adrian Houser at the big league level. Tylor Megill, Joey Lucchesi and David Peterson, who is rehabbing from offseason hip surgery, have yet to stick in the big leagues.

The club is hoping that the trio finally reaches their potential this year and starts to figure it out. They have yet to stick in the big leagues, but they do still have minor league options, which are beneficial.

Quintana is solid and reliable, but behind him, there are plenty of question marks. Severino is coming off the worst year of his career. Manaea and Houser are back-end guys, but the Mets will need them to pitch like frontline guys.

Still, the Mets are confident in their group.


“We like our depth,” Mendoza said. “We continue to like our depth. Some guys are guys are going to get opportunities.”

It’s highly unlikely that the Mets will go for one of the big fish on the free-agent market. Left-handers Blake Snell and Jordan Montgomery want multi-year contracts and the Mets are not interested in handing those out right now. Plus, they’re taxed at a 110% rate this season, so even if one took a high-dollar, short-term contract, it would be extra pricey.

Of course, Steve Cohen could afford those pitchers if he wanted them, but he seems content to let David Stearns and his baseball ops group run things the way he sees fit.

For Kranick, it’s a disappointing blow. Claimed off waivers from the Pittsburgh Pirates, the Scranton-area native missed much of 2022 and all of 2023 to rehab from Tommy John surgery. A lifelong Mets fan, Kranick always dreamed of pitching in Shea Stadium and Citi Field. It’s not a huge setback, but it’s a tough one nonetheless. He impressed in his first Grapefruit League start Tuesday, reaching the mid-90s with his fastball and showing an impressive two-seamer that he only learned a few weeks ago.

“I feel for the kid,” Mendoza said. “After the two innings, we saw the other day, we were encouraged with his velo. I think it was up to like 96 and he was feeling pretty well.

“The next day, he shows up with a hamstring injury.”

Losing Kranick isn’t the same as losing another one of the established big-league starters, but it does leave them looking thin. In the coming weeks, the Mets will get a better understanding of what they’re working with. Severino will pitch in his first Grapefruit League game Friday against the St. Louis Cardinals in Jupiter. Manaea will also make his first start in Jupiter, on Saturday against the Marlins.

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