Thursday, September 28, 2023

White Sox Are Moving Michael Kopech Back To The Bullpen


In a season where nothing has seemed to go right for the White Sox, it hasn’t helped that there has been some major regression from most of the team, particularly the rotation. Dylan Cease has looked like a completely different pitcher from the guy we saw last year, in a bad way. The same can be said for Michael Kopech. This is not what we needed out of these guys this year, as they should have taken another step forward, but that is clearly not the case.

It seems that the White Sox are going to mix it up with Kopech, as they are going to move him to he bullpen for the rest of the year with their sights set on him returning to the rotation at some point next year. Here are manager Pedro Grifol’s thoughts:

This is an interesting idea, as he was a dominant bullpen piece just a few years ago, but he was moved to the starting rotating full-time in 2022.

In his year in the ‘pen, Kopech threw 69.1 innings, to the tune of a 3.5 ERA. In those innings, he struck out 103 with a WHIP of 1.125. Those are some fantastic numbers and he looked primed to make the jump to the rotation.

Things went well in his first full season as a starter in 2022, as he had 25 starts for 119.1 innings, with a 3.54 ERA and a 1.190 WHIP. He had 105 strikeouts in those 119 innings. There were some things he definitely needed to work on to make the jump to a front of the rotation arm, but in his first full season as a starter he looked good and had some stretches where he was unhittable.

This year is where things have fallen off the rails. Kopech was up and down for most of the season but he still had some very good starts. But lately, he has completely fallen apart and has barely been able to make it more than just a few innings.

In 2023, he has a 5.16 ERA in 125 innings, striking out 129 batters. That is a good strikeout ratio, but to his demise, he leads the league in walks with 89. That is the reason for the inflated 1.556 WHIP on the season.

This is a lost season for most players on the Sox, but it is a good time to evaluate talent for the future as these games mean nothing but getting a better pick in the draft. It seems that Jose Urena will take Kopech’s spot in the rotation for the time being, as he has started a few games in AAA for the Knights.

Urena, the 31-year-old journeyman, had some nice seasons with the Marlins in which he had two full seasons with an ERA under 4. He’s pitched very okay in AAA, so I guess the Sox figure to give him a chance to see if he has made some adjustments and could be a person to work with in the future.

It is an interesting move and I would like to see a prospect up instead, but if nobody is ready then I suppose it’ll be entertaining to watch a new arm.

Hopefully, Kopech can find himself again in the bullpen and fix what has been plaguing him. If he can put up seasons like 2021 from the ‘pen it wouldn’t be all that bad, as the Sox have stocked the farm system with starting pitching that can take his place in the rotation. But, starting pitching is more valuable for everyone, so hopefully he can find that groove and return to the rotation.

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