In 2018, when the news broke that Chicago White Sox pitcher Michael Kopech would require Tommy John surgery, it drastically halted his progression. Many people began questioning whether he could live up to his top-of-the-rotation ceiling. His respectable 2021 paved the way for his next season to be his breakout year.
Kopech looked like he was taking that next step after his first ten starts of 2022 but another injury derailed his progression.
Right knee discomfort would force him out of his eleventh start against the Rangers after recording only two outs.
He has had five starts since the short outing worth 26.1 innings. In that span, he’s posted a 6.15 ERA and allowed 27 hits, 18 earned runs, and eight home runs while striking out only 21 and walking 14. His ERA went up after each of those starts.
Michael Kopech had a dominant start to 2022 but has struggled since an injury.
A rough stretch of starts does not define a season. For Kopech, a solid outing against the team first in your division would be ideal going into the break to build momentum for the next half. He battled against the Twins and did his job.
The White Sox needed a win against the Twins on Friday and the solid outing Kopech dished out provided the win. He threw five innings allowing five hits and two runs while striking out two.
He did walk four batters but as Steve Stone noted during the broadcast, the fastball velocity was up three miles per hour compared to his previous start. Despite not having his best stuff early, Kopech kept the offense in the game.
Headed into the All-Star break, it’s clear he needs to work on his command. It is a great sign to see his fastball back at 96-98 but it does no good three feet over the hitter’s head.
He did, however, get Nick Gordon to foul tip a 97-mph-heater into Reese Maguire’s glove. Kopech’s off-speed stuff became sharper as the game went on which is another great sign. He struck out Max Kepler on a sharp slider in the bottom of the third.
It is possible to bounce back from a few bad starts and Kopech is on his way to turning things around. He will end the first half with a 3.36 ERA in 17 starts (83 innings) with 74 strikeouts, 42 walks, and a WHIP of 1.18.
That is not an ideal stat line considering he once held an ERA at 1.92 but still recoverable. Kopech can still turn this season into his breakout year and battling through his start against the Twins proves it.