After missing the last two seasons, it was great to see Michael Kopech in a White Sox uniform in 2021. His season started great as Kopech flashed his potential on several occasions leading to the thought of more incredible things to come. However, a hamstring injury knocked him out for a month, and his stuff suffered. With a possible spot open in the 2022 White Sox starting rotation, is Kopech ready to reach his ceiling?
I am fully on board with the White Sox getting more starting pitching options. And I am hoping for ~100-120 innings out of Kopech in 2022. But there is a non-zero Chance Kopech comes out and dominates and makes a huge jump as a starting pitcher. I mean Corbin Burnes jumped from 72 IP in 2019 and 60 IP in 2020 to 173 innings in 2021. Kopech got to 73 in 2021. Kopech was rated higher than Corbin Burnes the last time Burnes was on the Fangraphs Prospect Rankings in 2018. 2018 Top 100 Prospects | FanGraphs Baseball
I like the Corbin Burnes comp for Michael Kopech. I’m still a believer that Kopech has a ceiling of a 5+ WAR pitcher.
What’s still unknown is Kopech’s floor. I can’t say with a ton of certainty he can replace Rodon’s 5 WAR season in 2022.
But I didn’t think Rodon would be nearly as good as he was last year.
That FIP, xFIP, xERA, and SIERA all under 3.00 as a reliever this season gives me some hope for sure. Give him even half run regression moving to starter and that is nice. I am just wondering how many innings to count on. Burnes made huge jump. Usually they try to stick to no more than 30 over previous year. Hopefully the offseason program and the biomechanics department help him get to 100-120+ successfully.
Nick Pollack over on Pitcher List is also high on Kopech. He was gonna put him around the 50th place on his list of Top 100 SPs if he ever moved from the Bullpen in 2020, alongside Stroman, Manaea, Bassit and Alex Wood.