Kutter Crawford identifies himself as “a guy that throws strikes,” but the Red Sox right-hander wasn’t doing that consistently early in the season.
After allowing a combined 10 earned runs and eight walks across 10 2/3 innings in April and May, Crawford was optioned to Triple-A Worcester halfway through the second month of the campaign. The demotion prompted Crawford to acutely assess his struggles, and he eventually realized what was troubling him on the mound.
“I was just moving way too fast, trying to throw hard,” Crawford told MassLive. “So I was losing the quality of my pitches and most importantly, my command. So that was one of my big focuses, going down there (to Worcester), just focusing on my command and honing in my mechanics and really slowing it down. If you threw me in the bullpen (now), I feel like I’d be the same pitcher now that I’ve fixed that stuff. I don’t think at the beginning of the year it (the struggles) was simply because I was a reliever. I had command issues I needed to fix.”
The 26-year-old went on to be one of the Red Sox’s biggest bright spots in July. Although Crawford only picked up one win over five starts in the month, he logged a 2.57 ERA and pitched into the sixth inning in each outing. It’s now become realistic to expect a quality start from Crawford any time he takes the hill, which is a huge lift for a Boston team that hasn’t seen much consistency from its starting rotation this season.
Crawford will try to keep it rolling Sunday when the Red Sox and the Royals wrap up their four-game series in Kansas City. NESN’s full coverage of the finale begins at 1 p.m. ET.