Michael Kopech has yet to win in 2022.
But several other numbers show just how impressive the right-hander has been in three starts this season for the Chicago White Sox.
Kopech produced his fastest performance on Friday against the Minnesota Twins at goal field, allowing three hits while hitting seven and going one of five scoreless innings. He went on with a lead, but the Twins took advantage of two throwing errors in a play to score a go-forward in the eighth to beat the Sox 2–1.
The late game erased what manager Tony La Russa said was “close to the kind of victory that excites you.”
At the top of that list of positives was Kopech’s outing.
“I had better control over my pitches (Friday),” Kopech said. “I was able to feel myself a little bit better in my body than in my first two (beginnings). I definitely felt more comfortable there.”
Kopech lowered his ERA to 0.64 – he is second in the American League in that category. Kopech has made 15 strikeouts in 14 innings and is third in the AL in the WHIP (0.79) and sixth in strikeouts in nine innings (9.6).
“Every start he has improved,” said La Russa. “When you have that kind of talent and you want it and you’re willing to work and listen, it’s a powerful combination.”
Kopech had to navigate through traffic on his first two starts. It happened again on Friday when he first surrendered a single to Luis Arez, but then found Carlos Correa to hit him in double play. Kopech walks Jorge Polanco, but catcher Reese McGuire throws him out for a steal.
“I think he did a great job (in the first) laying out some very close pitches,” Kopech said. “I was thinking a little in my head that I had some of those calls. Then I went back and looked and I didn’t see. Just had to make adjustments over the next few innings. He took some good at-bats, and I just had to do that. Had to settle later.”
Kopech has shown that ability during each start. He dismissed at least one batsman in the next four innings, including two in the second and the team in the fourth.
“Obviously the goal is to go off the first pitch and ride that wave,” Kopech said. “Sometimes it’s baseball and you get to see how everything is going before you settle down. I settled in a lot quicker than my first two (beginnings). I was excited about it.”
He credits McGuire for helping him make the in-game adjustments.
“Reese’s has caught all three of me now, and she’s able to see what’s working and what’s not out of the gate,” Kopech said. “Slider is a pitch I usually lean on a lot, it hasn’t really been the last two, so we tend to break the ball or when we haven’t seen ourselves with a fastball more often than not, we lean Go heavy on it.
“We did that little bit (Friday). Adjustment is kind of a partnership deal, where if he sees something, we’re going to go with him. If I’m not comfortable with that, I’m going to throw what I’m comfortable with. It (Friday) was good.”
Kopech will have to wait until his next start to shoot for that first win. Friday marked a fifth consecutive loss for the Sox, but Kopech is confident the team will turn it around.
“No one is worried about this skid we’re on,” he said. “It sucks. Nobody likes to lose. At the end of the day, we can look around this clubhouse and see what this team is made of and what we’re capable of doing in the coming games, No matter who we are playing.
“I don’t think it’s anything to be really worried about. We’re going to get our feet back under us.”