Imagine, if you will, a new age of baseball with pitch clocks, bigger bases, and the Boston Red Sox employing an eight-man starting rotation.
Okay, well, the first two are definitely true of Major League Baseball in 2023. And while stretching out the rotation with that many pitchers isn’t going to happen, the Red Sox do — or will, fingers crossed — have eight pitchers worthy of starting. All who own their own crucial key to success in 2023.
One of the names being glossed over is Kutter Crawford, who at times in 2022 was an anchor that held the Red Sox rotation together. And a pitcher who can serve many different roles in 2023.
Boston Red Sox: A look back on Crawford
A little less than three weeks remain in spring training for the red-hot Red Sox. It’s trending towards Crawford opening the season in the fifth-spot of the starting rotation, at least for a turn or two.
Chris Sale has started off strong, with Corey Kluber, Tanner Houck, and Nick Pivetta all making appearances. Garrett Whitlock’s 2023 spring training debut is on the horizon, with Brayan Bello not far behind.
Meaning Crawford could see some starts to open the season.
Crawford was thrown into the fire as a starter last season. A rough start as a relief pitcher skewed some numbers but Crawford finished with a 3-6 record and 5.47 ERA in 2022. Crawford appeared in 21 games, starting 12, and struck out 77 in 77.1 innings pitched.
Last July, at a time the Red Sox were truly struggling, Crawford was a rock in the rotation. He was only 1-1 but had some tough outings with little run support. During the month, he posted a 2.57 ERA and was the best starter (a stretch that included the Red Sox at times trotting out four rookies in the rotation.)
Struggles in his last three starts (18 runs, 12.2 innings) led to Crawford being shut down the final month, a sour note to end on for a decent first-year campaign.
Crawford has thus far looked good in spring training. In two appearances, one start, Crawford has pitched five innings with five strikeouts and hasn’t allowed an earned run. Promising signs for the season to come for the second-year pitcher.
Crawford’s 2023 outlook for Boston Red Sox
Crawford will fill a valuable role for the Red Sox in ’23, one that will eventually likely be one of long relief.
Spot starts will be on the agenda as well, as long as the Red Sox rotation is staying healthy. It’s a role that Houck could see, too. Crawford’s stuff could also mean he’s used late in games, especially following a flame thrower.
Crawford doesn’t lob it up there but his fastball is a few miles behind the top-throwers on this team. Meaning an ideal situation in late-innings, to help keep opponents off balance for an inning or two. (This is one reason Crawford might have more value than Houck, though both carry importance on the Red Sox.)
The forecast for Crawford is mostly in relief. He could use some fine-tuning, and could still see starts in Triple-A, but he is deserving of a consistent big-league spot. It might not be in the rotation but he has earned the right to be in that fifth-spot for now. From there or the bullpen, hopefully the best is yet to come for Crawford.