Who Is The Breakout MLB Pitcher Of 2022?

Image credit: Casey Mize (Quinn Harris/Getty)

This is one of nine burning questions comprising Baseball America’s 2022 MLB Season Preview. To see the full preview, click here

Kyle Glaser—Casey Mize, Tigers. Mize finished among the rookie leaders in nearly every category last season, and his performance looks even better if you throw out a poor first month. With an improved defense behind him and another year under the tutelage of pitching coach Chris Fetter, the former No. 1 overall pick is primed to take another step and become a frontline starter on a playoff hopeful. 

Ben Badler—Aaron Ashby, Brewers. If he can dial in his command, Ashby has the stuff to be a frontline starter, with a fastball up to 99 mph, a slider that flashes as a plus-plus pitch and a changeup that shows signs of plus potential. —BB

Josh Norris—Joe Ryan, Twins. Ryan and his invisible fastball dominated every step of the way in the minor leagues until he was dealt from Tampa to Minnesota in the Nelson Cruz package. He was pretty good in his MLB debut, albeit with a propensity for home runs. His first extended test  this year should cement his place in the Twins’ rotation. 

Carlos Collazo—Nick Lodolo, Reds. Lodolo doesn’t get a ton of attention because his stuff doesn’t jump off the page like other Top 100 Prospects arms. But he was quietly dominant in the upper levels of the minors in 2021 with a firm strikeout rate (13.9 per nine innings) and just 2.0 walks per nine. That strong foundation of command will make for an easy transition to MLB.

Geoff Pontes—Tanner Houck, Red Sox. With Chris Sale out for the early part of the season with a rib injury, opportunity is abundant in Boston. Houck could step up. He is armed with two variations of a fastball that average 94-95 mph and a sweepy mid-80s slider that rates among the best in the game. The development of a third pitch in his splitter has pushed Houck from tweener to a viable rotation option.  

Chris Hilburn-Trenkle—Nate Pearson, Blue Jays. Finally healthy, this is the year that Pearson exhausts his prospect eligibility and makes a splash in the big leagues, helping Toronto win their first AL East title since 2015.

Matt Eddy—Shane McClanahan, Rays. He hits 100 mph. He commands a devastating slider. Just eight starters with 100 innings last year generated a higher rate of swinging strikes. And yet McClanahan was an afterthought in Rookie of the Year balloting, finishing seventh in the AL and behind two Rays teammates. McClanahan needs to find a way to limit hard contact, but if he can, he has another level to reach in 2022. 

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