Michael Kopech has torn UCL, out until 2020

It turns out Michael Kopech’s velocity drop was injury-related after all.

The White Sox announced this afternoon that tests revealed a tear in Kopech’s ulnar collateral ligament. Tommy John surgery would be in order after the Sox confirm it with a second opinion. The club tweeted that Kopech is expected to return in spring 2020, and Rick Hahn told reporters Kopech will need to undergo the procedure.

Kopech only topped out at 96 as he struggled through 3⅓ innings in a loss to Detroit, missing his usual heat both before and after the rain delay, and also working a little slower than usual. While the lack of velocity is usually one of the leading indicators of injury — good thing my post had those caveats — nobody raised the possibility of more than a bad night in the postgame rounds, and Hahn said Kopech didn’t see surgery coming, either.

Kopech will now have to dedicate his renowned workout discipline to a rehab course. Meditation will probably come in handy, too.

Author

  • Jim Margalus

    Writing about the White Sox for a 16th season, first here, then at South Side Sox, and now here again. Let’s talk curling.

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asinwreck

Well, the wine store up the street has a gin-tasting event this evening. I know what I’m doing.

lil jimmy

I’m doing gin tasting right now.

Cheers

35Shields

I’m doing a bleach tasting.

asinwreck

Binge-drinking is a kind of tasting.

Anohito

Why can’t we have nice things? Just why?

35Shields

Well, I think this may have officially pushed 2018 over the finish line for “Worst White Sox season” for me. Congratulations to this year’s iteration for beating out 2007, 2013 and 2015.

yinkadoubledare

i want to die

Amar

Eat Arby’s

roke1960

Yes, this hurts badly, but TJ surgeries are just a fact of life in the MLB now. Many of the good teams have had significant pitching injuries. Fortunately, the Sox have added a lot of depth, especially pitching, during this rebuild. No reason to throw in the towel now.

Greg Nix

Jim, I admire your editorial restraint. My version of this post would have had a LOT more f-bombs in it. 

Marty34

I’m thinking I’d deal Rodon this winter and retrench

roke1960

I don’t think an injury to one guy, even if he is one of the top prospects, should derail this rebuild.

Anohito

We cannot possibly trade Rodon can we? He’s finally health and can be a bonadife ace for us.

gusguyman

It is worth consideration, if we could get anything good for him. His peripherals hint that a regression is coming, we don’t have enough contract control (and as a Boras client one would assume an extension is out of the question), and he is healthy now but has been injury prone. Of course, all of this makes it hard to get a good return for him too.

Trooper Galactus

Trading Rodon means you’re punting on the next two seasons, minimum, barring MASSIVE free agency spending (which, Renisdorf, lol). That means wasting more control years of other core pieces and might as well trade them, then you’re right back where you started in 2017. I don’t think Hahn could really sell the fan base on pushing the timeline back further because of an injury, even if it was to a top prospect.

karkovice squad

This doesn’t meaningfully alter the timeline. So trading Rodon, which would still be selling low, doesn’t move the needle.

Pointerbabe

My dog dies, Kopech needs surgery-what a motherfucker of a week.  No nice things for us.

asinwreck

Oh, hell. So sorry to hear that.

billyok

I’m very sorry to hear about your pup.

Pointerbabe

Thanks!  Like your Nina, I got over 16 years of amazing companionship with Otto

billyok

Otto was a good boy I reckon. And you gave him a great life.

Pointerbabe

I was his bitch

Trooper Galactus

comment image

Lurker Laura

I give up.

jorgefabregas

Kopech never blew out his elbow playing on the same team as Eloy. Therefore, this wouldn’t have happened if Hahn had called Eloy up.

karkovice squad

I mean…at least it’s not his shoulder?

Lurker Laura

This is the only good news.

ParisSox

What the hell man.  This year is the epitome of being a Sox fan.  Make it stop.  

SkeeterSkeeterman

Clearly Hahn should have not promoted Kopech and saved ~1.5 years of service time. ?

billyok

Nice things, what are those anyway

oljeto

What a kick in the . . .
But, this is why you package young flamethrowers for estabished position players, and buy your aces.
Let’s hope he has a better surgeon than Lucas, who lost velocity and his curve.
Rodon and Cease will anchor this team.
Now go out and get someone who can hit.  Trout, can you hear me now?

soxygen

i think pitchers acquired in FA are as likely to need TJS as young pitchers acquired via trade. The question is “how should a team mitigate the impact of inevitable pitcher injuries?” The answer is”acquire a lot of pitching.”

ForsterFTOG

Sox are the Schleprock’s of MLB.
Anyone think Kopech will rehab by throwing an underweight baseball 110 MPH?

Poor guy. Wish him well on his recovery.

Amar

This is why you don’t plan for 2025 or whatever f’ing year

soxygen

Wrath of the service time gods…

Jer-in-Az

Karma police for sure, I would like to think this will let us get a look at other young pitchers…but I fear we are gonna get to look at another bargain bin vet for 2019.

karkovice squad

So he’ll most likely be ready for Spring Training ’20. What are the odds they send him to AFL in ’19?

Patrick Nolan

This is the worst. Good lord. Technically not EVERYTHING has gone wrong for the White Sox this season, but this has been about as bad a 6-7 months stretch as one could have reasonably imagined.

Trooper Galactus

8 of our preseason top-10 prospects (per FanGraphs) have hit the DL in 2018, with two of them (Burger and now Kopech) having significant injuries which will cost them over a year of development. While some of our less heralded prospects have stepped up nicely, it’s been an unmitigated disaster for our elite talents between injuries and ineffectiveness, including at the major league level when considering the season-long struggles of Moncada, Giolito, and Lopez.

As Cirensica

I remember the days the White Sox was able to maintain healthy their players…it looks so distant. I guess regression in that area hit us hard

Trooper Galactus

Yeah, I think we took for granted guys like Buehrle, Pierzynski, and Ramirez who might not have been truly elite players, but who really locked down key positions and maintained good health year after year.

tommytwonines

Everyone’s forgetting the silver lining here: Kopech can still hit and DH during his rehab!  

Yolmer

I kind of thought they could compete next year, but not really. They definitely can’t without Kopech. If Kopech’s first three start are healthy Kopech, he will come back in 2020 still really good. Hopefully we get more progression from Lopez, Giolito, Moncada, and the rest plus a lot of Eloy in 2019. I think Lopez and Giolito will be decent 2-3 WAR pitchers, kind of like Danks and Gavin Floyd in 2008. So, I think 2020 will have Rodon, Cease, Kopech as the front line guys, Lopez and Giolito in the back or maybe Dunning replaces one of Lopez and Giolito. Anyway, the 2020 rotation will be very good.

The Sox can develop all their good bullpen arms next year, Hamilton, Burr, Frare, and Fulmer plus Fry and Bummer who look like major leaguers now. Plus, they get more development from Moncada and Eloy and whichever younger players stick around, probably Davidson, Palka, Yolmer. I think 2019 will he a fun bad year where they win 70-75 games, then they start really competing in 2020. This injury sucks, but it does not really change when their window opens.

Trooper Galactus

That’s what sucks most about this. In order to compete next year, they needed to be all hands on deck from day one, and that includes Eloy and Kopech. They would have needed Giolito, Lopez, and Moncada to take big steps forward, a healthy season from Abreu and Avi, and likely a significant dip into free agency. Now, without a guy we basically would have needed to be an All-Star or something approaching one, it’s pretty much a forlorn hope short of a spending spree the likes of which we have never seen from this team, and while I’d love to see that on some level, I don’t know that I want them to eschew their youth movement too heavily.

Marty34

I think the upside of this rebuild took a big enough hit that they either find a replacement for what Kopech was going to give then in 2019 & 2020 via free agency and buy a couple of hitters to try to make the playoffs (the division is awful.) Or tank next season, deal Rodon and look to start winning the second half of 2020.

Yolmer

I don’t think they need to trade Rodon. They could still have peaj years 2020, 21, and 22 of competing with him.

Trooper Galactus

Trading Rodon means they don’t think they can compete while he’s here, and he’s here for three more seasons. I don’t think fans would really accept that.

Yolmer

I could still see them going after one of the closers in 2019. It takes some pressure off the young guys. Maybe they extend Abreu now coming off a up and down season. The payroll is sooo open they can still spend a little in 2019. Maybe Adam Engel becomes a 2 WAR player, and they spend in 2020 on the best bat available to use as a DH like JD Martinez and the Red Sox.

I am too much of an optimist I know.

Trooper Galactus

I don’t know what’s more implausible; the idea that Engel will become a 2 WAR player or that the White Sox will spend over $100 million on a player for 2019.

Yolmer

.250 batting average would do it.

Another development year isn’t the end of the world. I hope the Sox just sign one James Shields type players so they can see if Spencer Adams or Jordan Guerrero have value as a starter.

tommytwonines

Did Kopech’s “clock” start yet? MLB pipeline still lists him as the #2 prospect in the Sox farm system and they’ve updated his profile with the Tommy John probability. 
 
Can he be “Bryanted” in 2020 for a few weeks?