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Kutter Crawford to make Opening Day roster

And Rich Hill will be the number five starter.

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Cleveland Indians v Boston Red Sox Photo By Winslow Townson/Getty Images

The Red Sox, with a couple of games left on the spring docket, have a couple more days before they have to make any official decisions with respect to the Opening Day roster, but some of those decisions are starting to be made. Prior to Monday’s penultimate spring game against the Twins, Alex Cora told the media that Kutter Crawford will be making the Opening Day roster, and also mentioned that Rich Hill will indeed be the number five starter with Garrett Whitlock starting the year in the bullpen.

We’ll start with the Crawford news, which is probably the more surprising, though not terribly so. He didn’t come into the spring as an expected member of the roster, but he’s performed well when he’s gotten the chance. This spring the righty allowed one run over four innings, striking out eight and walking one. He did make his major-league debut last season during Boston’s COVID outbreak late last year, allowing five runs in two innings with two strikeouts and two walks.

Crawford should be expected to serve as a multi-inning reliever here in Boston, which is probably the best role for him. We know that coming off this shortened spring training that teams are going to need as much long relief depth as they can find, which likely gave Crawford a leg up. That he was already on the 40-man likely helped as well. Crawford, who turned 26 last week, works mostly with a fastball, curveball, and yes a cutter.

As for the other news, it was always my expectation that Hill would get the starter’s nod over Whitlock, though Cora and company spent the spring insisting that there was a real competition here. It’s interesting to note, though, that Whitlock will be something of a piggyback behind Hill, so perhaps we should expect the latter to go about four innings for most of his outings, at least early on. Whitlock may not be in the rotation, but he’ll play a big role in whatever role he ends up, and I suspect there will be plenty of starts for him through the year as well.