Lucas Giolito suffered a “freak minor injury,” pushing his start back from yesterday to Tuesday and allowing the White Sox to keep Michael Kopech in the rotation for one more go. He delivered with his longest and most-impressive outing of the season, using 87 pitches to get through five innings, striking out ten, giving up four hits, zero walks and one run in a win against the Rangers.
White Sox manager Tony La Russa believes in Kopech’s long-term potential as a rotation arm, but he’ll go back to a hybrid role out of the bullpen for now. Per the Athletic’s James Fegan, La Russa said, “This is definitely not the time to think about moving Michael into the rotation. Michael Kopech is going to be a top-line starting pitcher. But right now it made sense to get him in condition and add more and more pitches. More importantly, the fact that he has competed so well shows that he has guts when he goes out there; he keeps his cool and concentration. I don’t have a crystal ball, but if he pitched — and I use the (Adam) Wainwright experience from ’06 — he can pitch in the bullpen all year long and maybe next year win 20 (games), or maybe later on he pitches this year as a starter.”
Kopech has made a pair of spot starts this year in his first game action since 2018. He’s also come out of the bullpen four times for a total of 15 2/3 innings – already a big-league career-high – with a sparkling 1.72 ERA/1.25 FIP. He’s striking out batters at an elite 46.6 percent rate while allowing a very strong 6.9 percent walk. It’s early, of course, but even out of the pen, the lanky 24-year-old with electric stuff is proving to be a weapon for the White Sox.
Kopech has come a long way since being a centerpiece of the Chris Sale trade back in 2016. It’s somewhat amazing that he’ll turn just 25 years old this upcoming Friday. Fegan detailed Kopech’s journey back to the Majors for a piece well worth a read here in the Athletic.