Michael Kopech

Why White Sox are sending Michael Kopech to the bullpen

The expectation was that Kopech would be a starter this year

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One day after trading Dylan Cease to the Padres, the White Sox announced another big change to their rotation. Michael Kopech is headed to the bullpen.

“We hope the smaller bite at the apple so to speak in reliever outings, whether it be one or two innings, is going to be perhaps something easier to accomplish for Michael and be better for the White Sox,” said White Sox GM Chris Getz.

Kopech’s stretch of inefficient outings in 2023 seem to play a big role in the decision. Kopech made 26 starts before being moved to the bullpen towards the end of last season. Among those 26 starts he only logged over 5.0 innings of work eight times. He led the A.L. with 91 walks despite tossing only 129.1 innings.

“When you’re trying to navigate the early innings and your pitch count is raised, and although you’re getting some outs, you’re also perhaps getting some walks and really raising a workload,” Getz said. “We thought we were going to run the risk of perhaps overtaxing our bullpen and the remainder of our pitching staff. So we’re looking for starters who can be more efficient on the front end to help navigate a season.”

While the move creates another hole in the rotation, it bolsters the bullpen to have a pitcher with Kopech’s stuff.

“He has a very talented arm as we all know,” Getz said. “I can’t say that everyone has the ability to get outs like Michael does.”

The White Sox acquired Kopech from the Red Sox in the deal that sent Chris Sale to Boston back in 2016. Since then he’s appeared in 103 games with 60 starts. Kopech has a career 4.33 ERA with a 1.348 WHIP, 357 strikeouts and 174 walks.

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