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2021 Arizona Diamondbacks Player Reviews, #48, Stefan Crichton

Stefan was a mainstay in the bullpen the last two years, could he keep the momentum in 2021?

MLB: Colorado Rockies at Arizona Diamondbacks Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports
  • Rating: 2.47
  • Age: 29 (is a leap year baby)
  • 2021 Stats: 23.1 IP, 33 H, 22 R, 19 ER, 3 HR, 12 BB, 17 SO, 7.33 ERA/59 ERA+
  • 2021 Earnings: Pre-arbitration
  • 2022 Status: Optioned to Reno in August, out of MiLB Options.

A 23rd rounder in the 2013 MLB Draft from TCU, Stefan was excellent his first two seasons, with a 1.98 ERA as a Freshman and a 3.41 ERA as a Sophomore, but a poor Junior season (6.59 ERA) caused his draft stock to tumble and he elected to sign with the team rather than return for his senior season. He cruised through the minors, with ERAs below 4s, reaching the majors as a 25-year-old but struggled in his debut, with an ERA of 8.03 across 12 innings which led to the D-backs acquiring him from the Baltimore Orioles in 2018 for cash.

In 2019, he finished the season as a dependable option for Torey Lovullo with an ERA of 3.56 across 30 innings in the last 3 months of the year. That continued into the next season, as he was the main set-up option to Archie Bradley. But with the year spiraling out of control, Bradley was shipped off to Cincinnati and Stefan became the closer to end the season. He closed 5 of 6 opportunities and finished with a season-long ERA of 2.42.

Coming into 2021 Spring Training, Crichton was given the opportunity to close but ultimately lost that job to Chris Devenski. Chris went on the restricted list a couple of weeks into the season, and as the year previous, took over the closer role for a struggling D-backs team.

While he saved 4 of his first 5 chances, he struggled into May and by the end of June his ERA had ballooned to 6.04. He was designated for assignment and then outrighted to Reno before returning just over a week later as a COVID replacement player and even entered two games against the Dodgers, but allowed 4 runs on 4 hits to end his season on a very low note, wiping away all previous goodwill earned with an ERA of 7.33 and a 0-4 record.

2022 outlook

Stefan’s ERA is a glaring reminder of just how bad he, and the D-backs, were last year and he ultimately lost his spot on the 40-man roster because of it. It’s tough to say that Crichton won’t have a spot on this team in 2022, as cheap options seem to be the way the D-backs will fill the bullpen this coming season but as a 30-year-old with no MiLB options remaining and declining fastball velocity, from 94 mph all the way down to 91 mph, it’s a concerning sign for a pitcher that already didn’t have great control or filthy offspeed stuff. He just walks too many guys and gives up too many hard hit balls (44% HardHit%) to really be anything better than an innings eater in blowouts for the 2022 D-backs. And even then, if the goal is to develop young talent, shouldn’t the team focus on pitchers that have an opportunity to contribute to the next D-backs playoff window? That question is above any of our paygrades, but I have a hunch we may have seen the last of Stefan Crichton in a D-backs uniform.