Buehler’s Game-3 show is sign of White Sox future with Michael Kopech
Even if you – the White Sox fan – didn’t stay up until the wee hours of night to watch all 18 innings of Game 3, the first seven innings should have given you a bit of hope.
Walker Buehler, the 24-year-old pitching phenom, owned the Red Sox in Game 3. His road to the World Series is paving the way for the White Sox own young pitching phenom – Michael Kopech.
Buehler and Kopech have several similarities. So, in a way, White Sox fans who were watching Buehler dominate the best hitters in baseball were seeing what the Sox will have when Kopech returns in 2020.
Buehler may look like he’s fresh out of high school, but the mature young pitcher is actually 24 years old. He was originally drafted out of high school, but chose to attend college at Vanderbilt instead. So, a few years later, the Dodgers drafted him in 2015. He quickly moved through the minor league system and debuted with the Dodgers in 2017; he pitched 9.1 relief innings posting an ERA of 7.71.
With Kopech recovering from Tommy John surgery, Sox fans will have to wait to see what he can do. But, if Buehler’s abilities on the mound show what a post-Tommy-John pitcher can do, then Sox fans should be able to relax a bit. Yes, we have to go all of 2019 without seeing Kopech pitch, but 2020 should be a season full of success.
Buehler had Tommy John surgery in 2015, just after signing with the Dodgers. In an article on MLB.com by Ken Gurnick, the Dodgers signed Buehler knowing that this surgery was a real possibility. Because of the surgery, Buehler missed nearly all of the 2016 season. Paul Casella with MLB.com, said about Buehler in his draft profile:
"“His best offering is his 90-96 mph fastball, and while he sometimes gets caught in between his curveball and slider, both can be weapons.”"
In Friday’s World Series Game 3, Buehler was throwing fastballs in the 98-99 range. Remember, these velocity improvements are post-Tommy-John surgery.
Kopech has been able to throw a baseball at speeds over 100 MPH. In his prospect profile, MLB.com reported:
"“Kopech throws as hard and is as difficult to hit as any starter in the Minor Leagues, which has prompted comparisons to Noah Syndergaard. His fastball, which sits at 96-99 mph, repeatedly hits triple digits with late run that keeps it off barrels.”More from White Sox NewsThe Chicago White Sox are expecting Tim Anderson back soonMiguel Cairo’s words spark life into the Chicago White SoxDylan Cease should be the favorite for the AL Cy Young AwardOzzie Guillen speaks the whole truth about Tony La RussaNew White Sox comments about the manager situation are baffling"
Buehler was 21 years old when he had his Tommy John surgery, and he came back stronger than he was prior to the surgery. Kopech is 22 and should have similar results. Buehler has been compared to Justin Verlander, while Kopech has been compared to Syndergaard. Both Verlander and Syndergaard are tough-as-nails right-handed pitchers who throw with velocities that speed up as the innings increase.
Buehler is a slender 6’2 -175 pounds, while Kopech is a slightly larger at 6’3 – 205 pounds. Both Buehler and Kopech are right-handed pitchers with outstanding stuff.
Fans of the Dodgers and the Red Sox were expecting that Clayton Kershaw and Chris Sale would be the aces of the World Series. Instead, the 24-year-old rookie was the one who proved hardest to hit allowing only two hits and striking out seven in seven innings. No one scored while Buehler was on the rubber.
When Kopech returns to the team, imagine what magic he will be able to do from the mound. The wait will be worth the while.