The Chicago White Sox had a lot of great pitching in 2021. They were one of the best teams in Major League Baseball and the arms had a lot to do with it. Between the starters and the bullpen, they have everything they need to make a deep playoff run. One key to the pitching staff in 2021 has been Michael Kopech who is back and better than ever.
Kopech was gone for almost three years because of Tommy John and opt-out in 2020. It was a lot of fun to see him return as he showed that he is still an elite pitching talent. His stuff is as good as any pitcher on the staff. He is a starter by trade but they used him as a reliever in 2021 that also made some spot starts.
He was one of the roster’s biggest boosts from 2020 to 2021. After everything he has been through both on and off the field, it is good to see that he was able to come right in and make an impact. When you watch him pitch, you can just tell that he is different than everybody else.
His fastball reaches 100 when he really lets it go and it has insane movement. When you combine that with some nasty breaking pitches, you have a pitcher that creates a lot of confusion for hitters.
The Chicago White Sox loved having Michael Kopech back in the 2021 regular season.
Things weren’t all perfect for Kopech in 2021. He had some bumps in the road as people started to figure him out but he adjusted nicely. He had an issue where he was tipping his pitches for a while too but once he figured that out, he went back to being awesome.
His mini IL stint that he dealt with was probably good for him as his innings were controlled just like the White Sox wanted to go into the season. Once he came back, the White Sox bullpen became one of the better units in the league after a rough start. Even when he made spot starts, he helped the White Sox win games.
Kopech finished the regular season with a 4-3 record and a 3.50 ERA over 69.1 innings pitched. The crazy thing is that he had 103 strikeouts in those 69.1 innings which is an incredible stat. He is one of only six White Sox pitchers to reach 100 strikeouts which is crazy for the number of innings he has pitched. Only Liam Hendriks had a better strikeout per nine.
It is going to be fun to see how Tony La Russa uses Kopech in the playoffs. You would think that he starts in a similar role to what he did all year long which is a high leverage reliever. He will probably be fully unleashed in 2022 but he is a very important superweapon for the White Sox in the 2021 postseason. Hopefully, he keeps it up with his dominant stuff. It is good to have Kopech back.