Chip Caray: Former Orioles Pitching Coach Rick Kranitz Provides ‘Steady Hand’ For Braves

The 2021 MLB All-Star Break appeared to provide some respite to the Atlanta Braves. Their season seemed all but doomed, with sensational outfielder Ronald Acuna having suffered a season-ending ACL tear earlier in the month. The Braves sat two games below .500 and five games back of the National League East division lead.

But the Braves stormed through the second half, winning the East and toppling the immensely talented Milwaukee Brewers in a four-game NLDS showdown.

Now the Braves stand at the doorstep of the World Series. It will likely be their pitching staff, led by former Baltimore Orioles pitching coach Rick Kranitz, that will decide whether the Braves can earn an opportunity to play for a World Series championship.

“I think [Kranitz has] a very steady hand, a very steady pulse on what these guys are trying to do,” Bally Sports Southeast broadcaster and Braves play-by-play announcer Chip Caray said on Glenn Clark Radio Oct. 19. “And the players and pitchers love him.”

“And look, I think a great endorsement for any coach or a manager is what people say in the previous spots he worked,” he added. “Go ask Aaron Nola if he liked working with Rick Kranitz [in Philadelphia] and look at the body of work for Aaron Nola since he’s left. He’s not been the same guy.”

Kranitz mentored Jake Arrieta, Jim Johnson, Brian Matusz and Chris Tillman, among others, while he was with the Orioles from 2008-2010. He was with the Milwaukee Brewers from 2011-2015 and the Philadelphia Phillies from 2017-2018.

His influence has been evident since joining the Braves in 2019. The team has made three consecutive trips to the postseason and back-to-back trips to the NLCS. It’s done so with some quality young arms.

Right-hander Ian Anderson (23 years old), lefty Max Fried (27) and righty Huascar Ynoa (23) are part of an Atlanta rotation that should improve even more as those pitchers mature. (Ynoa is out of the NLCS due to shoulder inflammation.) Veterans Charlie Morton and Drew Smyly provide valuable experience for the Braves as well.

Here’s how Atlanta’s rotation performed during the 2021 regular season:

Pitcher Starts Innings ERA WHIP Strikeouts
Ian Anderson 24 128.1 3.58 1.23 124
Max Fried 28 165.2 3.04 1.09 158
Charlie Morton 33 185.2 3.34 1.05 216
Drew Smyly 23 126.2 4.48 1.37 117
Huascar Ynoa 17 91 4.05 1.11 100

The Braves have pitched to a 3.58 ERA this postseason after pitching to a 3.89 ERA during the regular season. Kranitz ran successful staffs in his previous two seasons with the Braves as well, leading the club to a 4.20 ERA in 2019 (fifth in the NL) and 4.46 ERA in 2020 (seventh in the NL).

“Some of it is, you don’t get in the way. It’s helping guys figure out what their strengths are and what their weaknesses are, and building up the weaknesses and continuing to work with your strengths,” Caray said. “I think he has a very steady hand. He’s an old-school guy, he’s able to blend in the modern analytics and all of the things that are a big part of today’s game with good old-fashioned work. Get ahead in the count, change speed and throw strikes.”

Beating the Dodgers will take a team effort, one that doesn’t rely exclusively on the efforts of the pitching staff. The helpful midseason acquisitions of outfielders Adam Duvall and Joc Pederson have helped the Braves take a 3-2 series lead back to Atlanta.

“Their starting pitching has to pitch a little deeper into games,” Caray said on what the team needs to do to win the World Series. “Guys like Tyler Matzek and Luke Jackson, who have pitched in just about every game in this series, they can’t flop. They have got to be able to protect leads and get the ball to [closer] Will Smith.”

“They haven’t played their best baseball yet in this series with the Dodgers,” he added. “Hopefully that trend will turn.”

For more from Caray, listen to the full interview here:

Photo Credit: Courtesy of the Baltimore Orioles