Kutter Crawford's recent rough stretch could be attributed to awful Red Sox defense

Milwaukee Brewers v Boston Red Sox
Milwaukee Brewers v Boston Red Sox / Maddie Malhotra/Boston Red Sox/GettyImages

When Kutter Crawford toed the rubber in Seattle for his first start of 2024, J.P. Crawford laid down a bunt toward third base on Kutter’s third pitch of the season.

Pablo Reyes barehanded the ball and proceeded to throw it well past both Triston Casas and Enmanuel Valdez, who was trying to back up the play to first. J.P. Crawford easily made it to second base on the throwing error.

After Crawford retired the next two batters, Mitch Haniger singled to score J.P. Crawford from second base. Crawford tossed six innings, fanned seven batters and walked one that night. He allowed three hits and zero earned runs on 84 pitches. The Red Sox lost the game by one run in extra innings. 

Crawford’s first inning of the 2024 campaign foreshadowed his luck for the rest of the season.

The Red Sox's sloppy defense continues to betray their starters

The Red Sox lead the league with 45 unearned runs allowed. Alex Speier of The Boston Globe notes the Sox are 3-20 in games where they let up at least one unearned run. Crawford's record is 2-6 after Boston gifted two unearned runs to the Phillies on June 11. Modern baseball statisticians have proven that a pitcher’s wins and loss record is not indicative of how well he is actually performing. Crawford’s season thus far is an ugly reminder of that fact. 

Crawford is tied with Tanner Houck and Cooper Criswell for the team lead of six unearned runs allowed during their starts. The Red Sox have lost each of the last seven games Crawford has started, and he has accumulated five of his six losses in that span. He has not recorded a win since May 1st.

While Crawford has struggled here and there during this stretch, Boston's defense and lack of run support consistently let him down. The Red Sox have put up no more than three runs in any of his last seven outings.

In that unlucky last start against Philadelphia, he was tagged for two solo homers by Kyle Schwarber, but Dom Smith committed a costly two-run error that Alex Cora later classified as a routine play. In his worst start of the season against Milwaukee, Smith recorded an error on another routine play during the first at-bat of the game. Against Atlanta, Smith recorded two errors in the same inning that allowed two runs to score. Maybe the Red Sox should play Bobby Dalbec at first when Crawford starts. Oh wait, never mind.

Crawford posted a season-high eight strikeouts, with just one walk, against the best team in the National League. He induced a lot of soft contact against Philadelphia and Crawford leads all of the Sox starters with an exit velocity against of 86.8mph (the team average is 87.7mph).

Crawford deserves much better. Boston's defense needs to start helping him out because this is getting sad.

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