White Sox: Comparing Michael Kopech pitching debut numbers

(Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images) /

There is no doubt that rookie Michael Kopech has created plenty of buzz among White Sox fans.

In his first eight innings pitching for the White Sox, Kopech has some notable numbers that are worth comparing to other early rookie starts.

Looking at his numbers, it is worth wondering if he has had one of the best debuts by a rookie pitcher?

Back on April 29, 2018, MLB.com published a post about what pitchers and hitters had the best debuts in MLB history. Since Kopech only pitched two innings in his brief start against the Minnesota Twins, I decided to look at his first eight innings in his first two starts.

And, looking at his numbers, Kopech has done well. In eight innings, Kopech has 10 hits against him, one earned run, and four strikeouts. He has not walked a batter and he has not given up a home run.

So, how does he compare to what writers at MLB.com consider the best debuts ever?

Sadly, he has not had the best debut, even in 2018. That honor belongs to Nick Kingham with the Pirates. In his debut on April 29, he finished with a final line that was better than Kopech’s. In seven innings, Kingham allowed one hit, struck out nine, walked no one, and had no earned runs. His debut outing was nearly a no-hitter against the St. Louis Cardinals.

Unfortunately, those 10 hits in eight innings knock Kopech out of the running for a top pitching debut. But, the fact that he has not walked anyone or given up a home run is notable. Allowing only one earned run is notable, though.

Is Kopech’s debut the best of the current rotation?

Carlos Rodon‘s debut was in relief and it wasn’t anything to write home about, but his first start was not bad. He pitched six innings on May 9, 2015, against the Reds. His final line included four hits, two earned runs, four walks, and eight strikeouts.

Lucas Giolito had some short starts with the Washington Nationals in 2016. His first two starts totaled 7.2 innings. (His second start was against Bartolo Colon). In those innings, Giolito’s line included eight hits, four earned runs, six walks, five strikeouts, and two home runs.

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James Shields had his pitching debut on May 31, 2006, against the Baltimore Orioles. He was on the Tampa Bay Rays roster at the time. (Kopech would have been 10 years old at this time). Shields pitched five innings with nine hits, five earned runs, three walks, five strikeouts, and no home runs.

Finally, Reynaldo Lopez was also a member of the Washington Nationals when he debuted in 2016. His first start was on July 19 against the L.A. Dodgers. He threw five innings with 10 hits, six earned runs, one walk, nine strikeouts, and one home run to veteran Chase Utley.

Of the current starters, it is clear that Kopech’s debut was better than any of the other current White Sox starting pitchers (especially Giolito). All of the current pitchers had more earned runs and more walks.

Next. Which Sox prospect will get the next call up?. dark

Does this mean much in the scheme of Kopech’s future? Not really. His next start could be completely different than the last. Take Nick Kingham for instance. In his debut, he pitched a nearly-no-hitter. But, his second outing, he pitched six innings against the Brewers. In that start, he had six hits, four earned runs, one walk, seven K’s, and one home run. You just don’t know, but keep your eyes on Kopech, because there are clear signs that he could be great.