Kutter Crawford has all the time been considerably ignored.
A sixteenth spherical pick of Florida Gulf Coast University, Crawford was by no means seen as a high prospect developing by way of the Red Sox system. Even after incomes his place within the huge leagues Crawford was continuously overshadowed by his extra extremely touted friends, but you might make a case that after Brayan Bello he was the membership’s greatest starter in 2023.
Now heading into 2024, Crawford has a golden alternative to ascertain himself as an anchor within the Red Sox rotation.
In a yr the place Boston’s rotation was in a continuing state of upheaval, Crawford emerged as maybe probably the most constant and dependable starter on the employees. He initially opened the season within the bullpen however moved to the rotation in June after Corey Kluber and Nick Pivetta have been each pulled because of poor efficiency, and from that time on he began each fifth day for the remainder of the season.
By yr’s finish he’d quietly put collectively a strong season, rating fifth on the staff and second amongst all beginning pitchers with 2.5 wins above alternative after posting a 4.04 ERA over 129.1 innings.
Though he wasn’t dominant or overpowering, his means to persistently take the mound turned heads inside the Red Sox clubhouse.
“I think a lot of people, including me, have been surprised at the fact that he’s been able to post this season, especially when he started as a reliever,” Red Sox supervisor Alex Cora stated previous to Crawford’s final residence begin in September.
It was particularly stunning given Crawford’s current historical past.
After making his MLB debut in an emergency spot begin late within the 2021 season, Crawford earned a spot on the 2022 Opening Day roster because of a formidable spring coaching exhibiting. Once within the majors Crawford had an erratic stint as a reliever earlier than going again to Triple-A, and he later returned as a starter as soon as the rotation was decimated by damage in July.
That month Crawford put collectively an eye-opening stretch, posting a 2.83 ERA over 5 begins, however he couldn’t maintain it. He successfully ran out of gasoline over his final 5 begins earlier than being shut down because of damage for the ultimate month.
Proving he might keep wholesome over a whole huge league season was a significant step ahead. Now Crawford has to show he generally is a true workhorse.
The greatest knock in opposition to Crawford final yr was his lack of ability to pitch deep into video games. In 23 begins he solely pitched into the sixth inning 9 instances and by no means made it into the seventh. He additionally solely averaged 77.4 pitches per begin and topped 90 simply 5 instances.
Cora attributed a few of these limitations to his abrupt midseason transition from the bullpen to the rotation, however famous that for him to achieve his full potential he’ll have to construct up sufficient energy to deal with a bigger workload.
“That’s the next step, physically build to get to the next level,” Cora stated final September. “He knows what he needs to do to accomplish that and we’re excited that he’ll attack the offseason the right way.”
If Crawford could make the leap and develop into a real innings-eater for the Red Sox, he might dramatically increase the rotation’s potential and validate the membership’s choice to not make investments closely in outdoors additions. Even with out the identical stage of hype as a few of his rotation-mates, there’s additionally good cause to consider his emergence hasn’t been a fluke.
Cora stated Crawford boasts among the greatest stuff on the staff, and that’s backed up by his spectacular Statcast metrics, which rank within the high 25% in baseball in nearly each class. He limits onerous contact, doesn’t stroll many batters and his spectacular anticipated ERA (3.25) and Fielding Independent Pitching (3.83) marks counsel he was usually victimized by Boston’s poor protection.
For all these causes and extra the Red Sox at present have Crawford penciled into the rotation whereas Garrett Whitlock, Tanner Houck and Josh Winckowski are anticipated to compete for the final spot. Needless to say Crawford has a giant alternative inside his grasp, and if he can take the subsequent step as a starter he might develop into a mainstay within the rotation for years to return.