MLB: Spring Training-Texas Rangers at Chicago White Sox

Michael Kopech Flashes the Goods In Abbreviated Debut

Michael Kopech’s highly-anticipated major league debut brought with it all the excitement one might expect. Unfortunately, Mother Nature had other plans as a 52-minute rain relay after the second inning ended the 22-year-old phenom’s night much earlier than anticipated.

It’s a logical if not disappointing outcome to the most anticipated White Sox game in a long while. There will be more games and more opportunities for Kopech to show his stuff, and having one of the most important pieces of the rebuild continue to throw after that lengthy of a delay would be short-sighted. Put it simply: If a pitcher weren’t going to come back under normal circumstances, he shouldn’t here either. The Twins’ Jose Berrios did, of course, but he’s a much more seasoned pitcher and benefited from the fact that he was able to take the mound immediately following the delay.

Despite the abbreviated nature of the outing, I broke down Kopech’s two innings of work and what we saw in the 52-pitch outing.

First inning

Kopech started out extremely fastball heavy, as was to be expected. 19 of his 22 pitches were fastballs and 15 of his 22 were strikes. Joe Mauer singled up the middle on a fastball and Eddie Rosario poked a curveball into right to put runners on first and third with nobody out. After getting Jorge Polanco to pop out to left, he got his first career strikeout when C.B. Bucknor rung up Miguel Sano on a check swing on a breaking pitch that Gameday called a slider but looked more like a curve.

Kopech then went 3-0 on Max Kepler before getting him to fly out to center on a full count to end the threat.

It was a lot of pitches — Twins hitters fouled his fastball back a lot — but he didn’t seem to pull his fastball except for maybe once or twice and his curve, though rarely thrown, was commanded well.

Second inning

Kopech came out in the second seemingly looking to establish his breaking pitches. Logan Forsythe swung through a nasty curveball before staring at a fastball on the black for strike three. He mostly worked ahead and either tried to elevate the fastball or bury a curve when ahead 0-2 or 1-2. He brought out the changeup for the first time this inning and, well …

He struck out Forsythe looking and followed it up by getting Jake Cave swinging through a 96-mph fastball. It looked like it was going to be a quick, efficient inning when he got ahead 0-2 on Robbie Grossman but he nicked him with an inside heater. After Bobby Wilson singled, Kopech recorded his third strikeout of the inning when Bucknor called Mauer out on a high, 97-mph fastball.

Still a lot of pitches, but not because of command issue. 52 pitches through two innings but 35 went for strikes. He recorded swinging strikes on the fastball, curveball, and changeup this inning.


Kopech flashed a lot of what has made him such an exciting pitching prospect, even in the short outing. The high pitch count meant he wasn’t likely to pitch too deep in the game, but he didn’t overthrow — a legitimate possibility given the amped-up nature of the debut — and the breaking pitches looked good.

Kopech will undoubtedly be here through the final six weeks of the season, and we should get a better look at a full outing next time around. If the rotation spots hold, that will likely come Sunday in Detroit.

Related Articles

Leave a comment

Use your Baseball Prospectus username