Following up: Michael Kopech’s injury, Garret Crochet’s role

ANAHEIM, CA - APRIL 02: Chicago White Sox pitcher Michael Kopech (34) throws a pitch during a MLB game between the Chicago White Sox and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim on April 2, 2021 at Angel Stadium of Anaheim in Anaheim, CA. (Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire)

When we last saw Michael Kopech, he tried not to be seen, hobbling to the dugout in the straightest of lines after closing out his inning against the Cardinals on Wednesday. The White Sox identified the issue as hamstring soreness, but he went to the bereavement list instead of the injured list, so the matter of the injury’s severity went unresolved.

The Sox shed more light on the issue over the last 24 hours, first by shifting Kopech to the injured list before Monday’s doubleheader. Rick Hahn then offered more details in a rare Zoom conference with reporters on Tuesday, saying Kopech suffered a mild strain. While he might not be ready to return by next Tuesday, it shouldn’t be a lengthy stay.

It’ll be easier to take initial hamstring prognoses at face value once Adam Engel returns from his lengthy absence, which is supposed to happen next week.

* * * * * * * * *

Garrett Crochet had no such problems with his trip to the IL. After spending about two weeks on the shelf with an upper back issue, he returned to throw a scoreless May, striking out seven over 4⅔ innings.

It wasn’t completely without catches, though. He also walked four batters over those 4⅔ innings, concentrated into two outings where he threw just 12 strikes out of 32 pitches, including one where he didn’t retire any of the three batters he faced. He was properly calibrated in the other four outings and took charge accordingly.

The workload has also been weird: six outings, five of which on at least three days’ rest, and three with a margin of at least five runs. Some caution might’ve been initially warranted, but enough time passed to wonder about the greater plan.

La Russa elaborated on it before Tuesday’s game.

“We’ve really tried to be careful, not bring him back two games in a row, and when he comes in, come in for one inning,” La Russa said.

Of course, then Crochet went out and pitched two innings Tuesday night. It helped that he needed only seven pitches to knock out the first, and only extended to 20 on the evening, which would tied for the third-highest total since he returned.

Crochet threw 46 pitches over three innings in his final outing of April before going on the injured list with his back issue, so that might’ve caused the Sox to back off for a month. Perhaps the way he started June foreshadows what the month ahead will look like for him, being allowed to face three-plus batters in a game that is still within reach. Perhaps the Sox will have to make it up as they go along, and Chris Sale’s career becomes more and more of a miracle with each passing year.

* * * * * * * * *

Hahn hasn’t spoken much to reporters over the course of the season. The COVID-19 restrictions have something to do with it, because normally he’d hang out in the dugout at the start of every homestand, and the give-and-take over Zoom just isn’t the same. He also just might not be inclined to make himself available during a season where there could be all sorts of La Russa-related fires to put out.

As a result, his appearances have been at the start of months, not homestands. A lot happened over the course of the last one (which reminds me to catch up with Month in a Box), but Hahn’s far enough removed away from individual incidents like La Russa not knowing extra-innings rules or condoning retaliation at Yermín Mercedes to take a macro approach to it all.

“Most everything that’s become a big deal is a much smaller deal, it’s safe to assume,” Hahn said with a chuckle on Tuesday while speaking to beat reporters. While the team seems to have moved on from the Mercedes conflict with a sort of “agree to disagree” stance on Tony La Russa reprimanding his player for being aggressive with a big lead, Hahn downplayed concern for future conflicts as well.

“Am I concerned about fault lines? No, no,” Hahn said. “Again, it’s a very strong clubhouse that’s focused on persevering and winning that night’s game. That’s been the main priority and they’ve been able to block out distractions with just about anything that has come their way thus far.”

In between the pregame sessions and the first pitch of Tuesday’s game, WGN released the dash cam footage of La Russa’s arrest last year. Pretty much everything was captured in the original police report, which is why the White Sox responded with annoyance more than anything.

As he stated in December 2020 at the resolution of his case, Tony La Russa expressed embarrassment, deep remorse and contrition for his actions that evening. He also completed the terms of his sentence. After already publicly addressing this matter and taking responsibility for his actions — which resulted in a plea agreement for reckless driving — it is unclear to us how the release of this video today qualifies as being newsworthy. We prefer to focus on continuing to improve as people, as a team and as an organization, both on and off the field.

WGN said it filed the FOIA request the day of the arrest, so it’s at the mercy of public agencies and the speed with which they respond. I suppose the news is that there is no news, which is probably what everybody involved would prefer to be the case for a first-place team going forward.

(Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire)

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I don’t know in what world the dash cam video wouldn’t be news. Journalists would want to know if it matched up with the police report and if there was something significant left out. If it matches perfectly, that’s also news!

John SF

If you aren’t going to fire TLR, then Rick Hahn’s response needs to be

“We obviously knew this video would come out. We always trusted Tony’s account of the event would be matched in this video; which it was. We’ve watched it. Tony has watched it. Tony has obviously talked about this all publicly already, and he would like to refer back to those comments rather than distract the team with another press conference on the eve of this series with Detroit.

There have also been many important conversations between Tony and the team which are ongoing, and which will remain private. Suffice it to say, we are satisfied with his commitment and we believe in the strength his character. Tonight is a time where he is of course thinking back on past mistakes and hopefully he can be allowed that space to reflect. But tomorrow Tony will be back here at 7am, 100% committed to preparing his first-place Chicago White Sox for October baseball.”



The Crochet/Sale parallels make me wonder whether Sale would still be a generally well-regarded high-leverage reliever if he hadn’t pitched a fit when the Sox refused to let him start.

As Cirensica

Sale was clearly a superior pitcher than Crochet in his early stages. I don’t see much parallels here.


Uh, how so?

Pre-Start Sale (’10-’11): 94 IP, 2.58 ERA, 3.03 FIP, 10.59 K/9, 3.53 BB/9,
Crochet so far (’20-’21): 21.2 IP, 0.42 ERA, 2.36 FIP, 10.38 K/9, 3.74 BB/9

Crochet hasn’t pitched as much but he’s also put those numbers up while dancing around injuries. I’m not saying Crochet is better or even as good, but I think you’d have a difficult time mounting a case that Sale “was clearly a superior pitcher than Crochet in his early stages.”

As Cirensica

Good point.


One would have an extremely hard time convincing me that Bo Jackson wasn’t one of, if not, the most superior athlete I’ve seen in my lifetime due to his injuries.


Haha! I would have loved to see Bo pitch an inning in a blowout.

As Cirensica

Jim has a good point, part of being an elite athlete is staying elite. A couple of examples that come to mind: Mark Prior and Josh Johnson. Prior had an out of this world talent that we only were able to glimpse. Johnson stayed healthier a bit longer, but…

Albert Belle would have been a sure Hall of Fame inductee if his career didn’t end so quickly.

Trooper Galactus

I dunno about Belle. The BWAA would never have voted him in out of spite, and I don’t think he was very popular with his peers either to get the VC vote.


Health is a skill. Some people have it and deserve credit for their ability to stay healthy.

Trooper Galactus

Sale was healthy, but he always seemed to fade badly late in the season. His September swoons probably cost him at least one CYA, possibly more.


Not necessarily, if the injuries are relatively mild and the point of the exercise is to predict future success. Either way: as I said in the original post, I’m not saying Crochet is as good. But I don’t think it’s true that Sale was “clearly a superior pitcher.” That’s just having the benefit of knowing how Sale’s career progressed.

John SF

The K/BB% actually stands out to me.

All of MLB:

  • 2010 K/9 — 7.1
  • 2010 BB/9 — 3.3
  • 2020 K/9 — 9.1
  • 2020 BB/9 — 3.5

Obviously Crochet has put up some absurd numbers, even just in 2021 his numbers are really off the charts when you imagine them as starter numbers. But in Sale we were seeing a HoF level ability to miss bats early, which isn’t quite the same thing we’re seeing with Crochet.

With GC, if we are seeing the early part of a HoF quality career as a starter like we did with Sale, the really exceptional part is the low FIP from generating week contact.


And today’s game is officially postponed

Last edited 2 years ago by dwjm3

A question I have regarding Crochet is if he needs to be handled with kid gloves for an extended time, would the Sox want to have him pitch in the minors for a while where they can manage his workload more easily. Especially if another lefty, like Fry, is available. It is one thing if he is very effective so even limited use is helpful. But seems a different calculation if his effectiveness wavers from game to game.


I was thinking the same thing. Call up Fry and send Crotchet to AAA. If they truly think he is a Starter, he needs to build up some innings in AAA.


I hope not. I understand that treating him with kid gloves is sort of like using him as a lefty specialist, which Jace Fry is. But Crochet potentially adds a lot more to the bullpen than a healthy Fry would. A slightly different question is whether it makes sense to keep both Foster and Ruiz if Fry is able to come back healthy and effective. In that scenario, Fry would slide into some mid-leverage lefty use, while Crochet slides over to fill one of the 4+ out middle relief roles.


Has “Is Liam Hendriks good?” been answered with this AL reliever of the month award and last few weeks?


He’s actually been better than advertised this year but people will either look to his “inflated” ERA or claim its because he’s using illegal substances like every other pitcher to say he’s not worth his contract. Was he the best allocation of that money? Maybe not, but the #1 alternative for those funds was to most people’s minds Springer and he has all of 18 PAs this year. Wouldn’t that have been fun to have all 3 OF positions hurt at once?


Illegal substances? What do you mean by that?

Re: Springer, I wouldn’t confuse process with results, especially only two months of results. The White Sox chose to not pursue Springer for financial reasons, not because they knew he would be injured in April and May. Toronto’s decision was sound, but all free agent signings include some risk.


There are some…”theories” that Sox pitchers, like every other pitcher in baseball apparently, are taking advantage of the amnesty MLB has offered and are using anything and everything they can to get extra grip on the ball instead of just the “legal” sunscreen/rosin mixture. Giolito and Hendriks are the primary beneficiaries of these substances because of the jump in their performances a few years ago.

John SF

I haven’t seen that.


  • Giolito had elite spin rates as a high school prospect
  • Cease had elite spin rates as a high school prospect
  • Rodon had elite spin rates as a college prospect
  • Giolito’s big jump in results is most easily explained by his entire overhaul of pitch mechanics. To the point where other pitchers have adopted it modeled on him.
  • Cease’s big jump in results is most easily explained by him being able to control his release point and staying in-line to the plate. His velocity and spin rates haven’t changed, and his command has only improved in relation to his pitches having more predictable movement (predictable to Cease, not the batter).
  • Rodon’s big jump in results is probably best explained through Katz, not pine tar — although it can’t be ruled out I guess.
  • Reynaldo Lopez, Gio Gonzales, Kelvin Herrera, Steve Cishek, Cease 2020, Rodon 2020, ??? Did none of them get the pine tar memo? What about Marshall 2021, Heuer 2021, Foster 2021, Keuchal 2021?

Hendricks? I don’t know It wouldn’t surprise me at all if he uses stuff. I guess I haven’t looked closely. And I assume *most* Sox pitchers use at least a little of something because we know from surveys that >85% of pitchers do!

But anyone assuming that the Sox’s good pitching is because we’ve started recently using illegal grip substances in some way that is not normal makes no sense. It doesn’t fit the facts.


I’d feel a lot more confident about the OF situation moving forward with a Springer on the 10-day IL than an Eaton on the field.


I mean, its a moot point anyways but Springer has played all of 4 games out of Toronto’s 55 this season and is maybe close to being ready for a rehab assignment. Calling it a 10 IL stint is being a bit generous but all things being equal, Springer>Eaton. The problem is, Eaton+Hendriks>>>>Springer+Colome (insert RP here) through this early part of the season but people don’t like hearing that.

Trooper Galactus

I think the expectation was that the White Sox could have had Springer+Hendriks, though.


I didn’t call it a 10 day IL stint, but said he’s on the 10 day IL: only to emphasize that he should be back ~soon and isn’t out for months.

That Eaton/Hendriks have way outperformed Springer/Colome is just a fact that everyone knows. The reason people don’t like hearing it is because people already know it, so saying it seems to imply something else—like the Sox FO made a good decision by passing on Springer. When, in fact, Springer alone could *still* be more valuable than both Eaton and Hendricks and would solve an enormous problem for the Sox. Plus, there’s no guarantee he would have gotten injured on the Sox.

The point is this: even if the Sox dodged a bullet (and I don’t think they did) with Springer, I hope Sox fans don’t take this as evidence that the Sox FO is right to avoid the frontlines of Free Agency.


I’m sure Boston would agree to disagree with Sale’s career being a miracle. While they probably don’t regret the trade because he was a core piece to a WS title, they may want a redo on the contract he signed with them in 2019.
I for one was glad the game today was postponed. We did have an advantage in terms of pitching matchup, I wasn’t too thrilled with the Big Fella pitching on short rest.


Well we know have a five game series at the end of the season with Cleveland. I guess we better hope it is inconsequential.


It’s also possible Eloy and or Robert will be playing in that series.