Chicago White Sox: 2021 grade for Michael Kopech

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

Going into 2021, it was hard to predict what was going to happen for Chicago White Sox pitcher Michael Kopech. He had Tommy John at the end of 2018 and missed the remainder of that season and all of 2019 recovering. When 2020 rolled around, he was ready to go in spring training before COVID-19 shut everything down.

When the league finally came together for a 60 game season, Kopech opted out for personal reasons. He was missed for all those games and it was fair to worry about his development. Coming into this past season, it became clear that he was going to be eased in through the bullpen.

He made a couple of spot starts in 2021 but he mostly did end up coming in as a reliever. He was awesome for most of the season. He finished with a 3.5 ERA, 1.125 WHIP, and 103 strikeouts in 69.1 innings. The insane strikeout number is really impressive and something to build on going forward. He finished with a 1.3 WAR in a season that they lightly brought him back.

Even though he only went the 69.1 innings, he was considered a high leverage option. The White Sox were a division-winning team that needed performances that Kopech was able to give them at certain points.

He worked off his incredible fastball that moves like no other fastball in the league. When you combine the moving 100 miles per hour heat with some nasty breaking pitches, it is going to be very hard for hitters to pick up on it. That is why he piled up so many strikeouts as people had a hard time catching on to his stuff.

2021 Final Grade: A

Michael Kopech gets an A for a lot of reasons. He deserves respect for making sure that he did what was best for him in 2019 and 2020 following some tough times. When he came back, he showed why he was such a highly regarded prospect by dominating in pretty much every outing.

There were a few rough patches here and there as he might have been tipping his pitches for a short stretch. As his career goes on, those things will happen less frequently which gives him a chance to be one of the best in White Sox history. He has the talent to do so. He was awesome for the circumstances that he has and will only improve from here.

2022 Outlook:

The Chicago White Sox have already made it clear that their intentions are to finally transition Kopech back into a starter role. He hasn’t been a full-time starter since 2018 which is something that has always been a goal of his. Now that he is healthy, looking dominant, and ready for the role, you can expect it starting now. This rotation will be great and he is going to be a big part of it.

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