The White Sox playoff chances took a hit on Saturday afternoon when the White Sox announced that Michael Kopech was placed on the 15-day injured list with right shoulder inflammation. In a corresponding move, Davis Martin was recalled from Triple-A Charlotte.
The South siders already faced an uphill climb to get atop the Central Division standings, but now they will be down a critical piece in their starting rotation. Kopech has posted a 3.54 in 25 starts this season. The 26-year-old right-hander has limited opponents to a .198 batting average and a .294 on-base percentage. He has also racked up 105 strikeouts.
Kopech had his regular bullpen session on Thursday in Cleveland and did not feel quite right. He was not pleased with how the ball was leaving his hand, which was enough for the White Sox to perform an MRI. According to general manager Rick Hahn, the MRI didn’t ” reveal anything too alarming.”
“Obviously, there’s some inflammation in there,” Hahn told reporters before Saturday’s game. “And there’s enough of a concern to pull the plug on his next couple of starts. We’ve given him some medication, and obviously, he’ll rest for the early part of his IL stay. It is still a possibility that he can return to the active roster when he can return to the active roster when his 15 days are up.”
Fifteen days from September 17th would mean Kopech would be back on October 2nd for the White Sox game against the San Diego Padres. Depending on how the White Sox do in their upcoming series against the Cleveland Guardians, he may get shut down for the season. If the White Sox lose that series and fall out of the playoff race, there would be no reason to rush Kopech back.
Kopech’s health and durability are already a major concern. He underwent Tommy John surgery in 2018, keeping him out for the 2019 season. He then opted out of the 2020 season due to personal reasons. After not pitching for two years, the White Sox tried to ease him back in 2021.
This season he has jumped from 69 1/3 innings as a reliever in 2021 to a career-high 119 1/3 in 2022. It raises some questions about his long-term role as a starter.
Rick Hahn was quick to squash those concerns.
“There’s no long-term concerns here. And as we talk about going all the way back to Spring Training, there were going to be a number of factors dictating how many innings Michael was going to wind up throwing for us this year. Certainly, protecting his long-term health is one of the most important factors which led to the decision here.
“Imaging just showed normal wear and tear as we would expect, given his workload this year. No long-term concerns whatsoever. No calls for any sort of intervention. Something we feel will resolve with treatment and rest.”