In a series of roster moves made on Saturday, the Red Sox optioned right-hander Kutter Crawford to Triple-A Worcester.
Crawford, 26, was a surprising addition to Boston’s Opening Day roster after striking out 10 of the 20 batters he faced during spring training. Traditionally a starter since being selected by the Sox in the 16th round of the 2017 amateur draft, the Florida Gulf Coast University product earned a spot on the big-league club as a reliever.
In eight appearances out of the Red Sox bullpen, Crawford posted an 8.44 ERA and 5.20 FIP to go along with 14 strikeouts to eight walks over 10 2/3 total innings of work. The righty had pitched just three times this month, so he was an obvious candidate to get sent down on Saturday with Rich Hill getting activated from the COVID-19 related injured list.
By sending him down to Worcester, the Sox are not only allowing Crawford to pitch on a more frequent basis; they also want him to get back into the swing of things as a starting pitcher.
“This is a kid we really like and he needs to pitch,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora told reporters (including MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith) earlier Saturday afternoon. “Obviously where we’re at right now roster-wise, we are where we’re at. I’m not sure if he’s going to start this week but we’ll make sure he goes multiple innings. At one point he’s going to start and we’re going to let him start and keep developing him.”
Before the 2022 season began, all but one of Crawford’s 67 appearances in the minor-leagues went for starts. He also made his major-league debut as a starter against the Cleveland Guardians at Fenway Park last September.
Upon earning a promotion from Double-A Portland to Worcester last July, Crawford made 10 appearances (nine starts) for the WooSox while fanning 32.1% and walking 7.2% of the opposing hitters he faced at the Triple-A level.
So far this year at the big-league level, Crawford has seen his strikeout rate dip to 25.5% and his walk rate rise to 14.5%. This is something the Red Sox would like to see the 6-foot-1, 209 pound hurler work on in his second stint with the WooSox.
“Out of character are the walks,” said Cora. “This kid, he’s been a strike thrower his whole career. And that’s what everybody was talking about in spring training. It wasn’t easy to get him innings. Obviously you see the games we have played the whole season. They’re close games. I know he can do the job but we wanted him to go multiple innings and it wasn’t easy to get him the innings. So I do believe for now and obviously the future, it’s the best move.”
(Picture of Kutter Crawford: Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images)