Chicago White Sox: Michael Kopech is brilliant in relief this year

(Photo by Kathryn Riley/Getty Images)
(Photo by Kathryn Riley/Getty Images) /

The Chicago White Sox started the rebuild on December 6th, 2016 when they traded Chris Sale to the Boston Red Sox. Of course, Yoan Moncada was the number one prospect in all of baseball at the time and the Red Sox gave him to the White Sox for Sale. The White Sox also got Michael Kopech in the deal who was a top 30 prospect himself. Now, he is looking like the most talented pitcher in the entire organization.

The White Sox allowed Michael Kopech to make his Major League debut in 2018. He was very good right away as we expected. Unfortunately, he had an injury that led to him needing Tommy John surgery. He missed the rest of 2018 and all of 2019 recovering from that. In 2020, he looked ready to go but he opted out of the COVID-19 shortened season for a variety of reasons.

Going into 2021, everyone was very excited about the return of Kopech. Lots of players in the league throw the baseball 100 miles per hour but there is something electric about the way Kopech does it. He can make a two-seam fastball dance at that speed which oftentimes ends up making hitters look silly. He mixes in lots of offspeed stuff and has become a strikeout machine as a result.

Michael Kopech has been a starting pitcher for his whole life. However, to ease him back from 2.5 years away, the White Sox have been managing his innings in the bullpen. The result has been one of the best relievers in the sport. He currently has pitched in 45.0 innings where he has a 2.60 ERA and a 1.067 WHIP. In those 45.0 innings, he has a remarkable 62 strikeouts. He has been everything they need and more.

The Chicago White Sox has seen Michael Kopech become a really great reliever.

It was interesting to think about him as a reliever when the idea was first floated around. With the way that the White Sox starting pitching staff has thrown this season, it is now easy to leave him there and let him keep doing what he is doing. He still should eventually be a starter but he is doing just fine in relief now. As we get well into August, they have been using him a lot more too which is great to see.

Following the trade deadline, the White Sox have both Craig Kimbrel and Liam Hendriks. Both of those guys are top-three closers in the sport right now. Kopech is ahead of them along with Aaron Bummer and Ryan Tepera as setup guys. This group has the ability to form the best bullpen in the league down the stretch. Of course, a trio of Kopech, Kimbrel, and Hendriks is the ideal play for any given game that sees the starter go six innings with the lead.

With Kopech’s pitches being heavy swing and miss stuff, he is the perfect guy to bring into tough spots. 45 percent of his recorded outs have been via the strikeout this season. He is magical on the mound when things are going well. The White Sox are lucky to have this guy and are handling him absolutely perfectly. If he keeps this up, he is going to be a very wealthy man one day with a big-time role on a very good team.

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