Something White Sox fans have been waiting on for a long time now is the development of Michael Kopech into a solidified ace in the rotation.
So far, there have been many instances where this has come to fruition as Kopech has flashed his dominance multiple times this season whether that be back-to-back starts of allowing 0 earned runs or striking out 6 or more batters in half of his starts this season.
While Kopech has had moments of greatness, there have also been some troubling moments. His troubling moments are usually predicated around his main weakness which is struggling with control and falling behind in counts.
On Wednesday, Michael Kopech faced his biggest test of the season taking the mound at home (where he has pitched very well) against the offense with the most runs scored this season, the Texas Rangers.
The Chicago White Sox need more from Michael Kopech overall.
Kopech did start off with a scoreless first inning however, there were some troubling signs that would reappear and have a negative effect later in the game. Michael Kopech is mainly a two-pitch pitcher with a 4 seam fastball and a slider.
To lefties, however, he will add in a changeup as this pitch moves away from left-handed hitters. Kopech flashed the change up once to left-handed hitting Corey Seager in the first inning which yielded a swing and miss but this would really be the only effective one of the night.
Kopech also got in two 3 ball counts against Seager and Lowe which meant he started off the night driving up his pitch count.
Lastly, the final out of the inning was a hanging slider that Garcia nearly put into the left field stands but Andrew Benintendi was able to make the catch on the back of the warning track.
Michael Kopech continued to find himself in many 3-ball counts but navigated them well early on via his 4-seam fastball.
Kopech was able to dominate the upper quadrant of the strike zone with his 96 and 97-mile-per-hour fastballs that yielded several swing-and-misses or lazy fly balls. Falling behind hitters and only having true command of one pitch usually does not bode well and this was true as the game progressed.
In the 3rd inning, Kopech faced left-handed hitting Nathaniel Lowe with 2 outs and runners on second and first base. Kopech had Lowe 1-1 where he then threw a changeup that hung and did not move away from Lowe at all which resulted in a double to left field.
Semien scored on the play to make the score 1-1. The ball was hit sharply to left field and Andrew Benintendi made a phenomenal play to at least keep that ball from never touching the ground or getting away from him.
It only hit the outfield wall which meant it was a double and did not allow an opportunity for Seager to score on the play as well.
Kopech limited the damage by striking out Garcia but found himself in another jam in the fourth inning. Jonah Heim hit a base hit to left field and this brought Ezequiel Duran to the plate.
Having Duran down in the count 0-2, Kopech had a golden opportunity to record the second out of the inning but instead, hung a slider that got sent to the stands for a two run home run.
Kopech got out of the fourth inning but that would be the end of his night. The final tally for Kopech was a total of 4.1 innings while throwing 86 pitches.
Many of Kopech's outings have gone past 90 pitches so it may have been a bit of a surprise to some to see him pulled after 4 innings.
Scot Gregor of the Daily Herald reported that White Sox manager Pedro Grifol said:
""He's (Michael Kopech) has thrown a lot. I just decided it was going to be one of those games where I was going to give him a rest. " "
Overall, this was probably a smart move by Grifol as the pitch count was spiking at a concerning rate as well as Kopech falling behind many hitters and not having a great command of his offspeed pitches.
Despite being 32-44, the White Sox are only 5.5 games back of the AL Central leading Minnesota Twins. If the White Sox want to make a push and contend, they are going to need players such as Michael Kopech to deliver against top-tier teams such as Texas.
There is still plenty of baseball to be played and plenty of opportunities for Kopech and the rest of the White Sox to deliver when needed.