Pedro Grifol reluctantly, gently moves Michael Kopech to White Sox bullpen

White Sox pitcher Michael Kopech
(Photo by Melissa Tamez/Icon Sportswire)

Over his first nine starts in the second half, Michael Kopech had a 7.34 ERA with more walks (35) than strikeouts (30) over 38 innings, and he’d failed to complete five innings his last four times out.

Despite the obvious struggles maintaining control beyond an inning, Pedro Grifol remained adamant that Kopech’s future lay in the rotation:

“We talked to him about it and we’re going to back off a little bit and throw him out of [the bullpen],” Grifol said. “That does not mean that he’s a bullpen guy. It does not mean we’re not going to start him in the future.

“Him not being a starter is not anywhere close to what we’re thinking and anywhere close to what he should be thinking.”

It only took one more ugly start for Grifol to officially change his mind. Tonight is Kopech’s turn in the rotation, but the White Sox are instead choosing to scrape the bottom of their pitching depth by calling up José Ureña, and Kopech will move to the bullpen the rest of the season.

Ureña had a couple nice years with the Marlins in 2017 and 2018, but he’s bounced from one desperate rotation to another over the last several years. He comes into this game 0-4 with a 9.82 ERA, and all that work four months and two organizations ago with the Rockies. The Nationals signed him after Colorado released him, but a 6.31 ERA in Rochester left him stationed in Triple-A until the Nats released him in August.

That’s when the Sox came calling, and because he’s managed to post a 3.38 ERA over four starts and 21⅓ innings in Charlotte, here he is.

As for Kopech, Grifol said the relegation is only temporary:

“He’s starting next year. You’re not going to read into anything. He’s a starter. He’s going to be a starter. We’re building him to be a starter for next year and that’s how we’re going to approach it “

Grifol isn’t my dad, so he can’t tell me what to do. There’s plenty of reason to read into it, because this isn’t the first time Grifol reversed course after a denial. There’s also the matter that Grifol only saves his honest, direct assessments for rookies.

Kopech got to lead the league in walks over 26 starts before Grifol issued a consequence, and even then, it was gently delivered. Meanwhile, here’s Grifol on Lane Ramsey, who walked the leadoff guy in the eighth inning on Friday after the Sox expanded their lead.

It isn’t necessary for a big-league manager to have played in the majors — Joe Maddon is a prime example — but Grifol shows why teams prefer some MLB experience. Grifol seems quite comfortable crapping on rookies, but he treads far more lightly around anybody who has a guaranteed contract. Ramsey gets called out for a leadoff walk that doesn’t score, but when Aaron Bummer has an outing that raises his ERA from 6.35 to 7.85, Grifol gives him paragraphs of grace:

Grifol can’t rip every player after every rough moment and expect to earn respect, because nobody likes that kind of person, and he hasn’t accomplished anything in this role. But I also don’t think he can command a clubhouse when he acts afraid of half the players in it, and compensates by being publicly tough on the guys who lack status.

Unfortunately, Chris Getz has committed to Grifol for next season because the White Sox regard their audience as a captive one, even if plummeting attendance shows fans can find a way out. The ones who hang around get the treat of watching Grifol attempt to figure out a balance in real time.

A straightforward and sensible appraisal of Kopech’s future would be a nice place to start.

If there’s a documentable reason to believe Kopech is better as a starter than he’s shown — an injury, for example — then say so. If he’s still the best option to fill a rotation spot in 2024 because the organization lacks alternatives, acknowledge the tenuous nature and set standards. But as long as Grifol lacks the ability to find middle ground between “outright denial” and “post-hoc justification” when explaining his thought process regarding a struggling veteran, everybody’s left to fill in the gap themselves, even if Grifol doesn’t want you doing that.

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Greg Nix

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Greg Nix

(Apply this to Pedro Grifol or Michael Kopech as you like.)


I didn’t know he died. I also didn’t realize he was 99! And hosted The Price is Right for 35 years.


You’re never gonna make 200 innings pitched! Just like you’re never going to go an inning without walking somebody, ya jackass!


I would think that if Getz said that Grifol’s status was day to day, or would be evaluated at the end of the season, the press would be asking Grifol about his status before and after every game, and his position would be even more shaky with the vets.

As for Kopech, he’s either pitching hurt, at an innings limit, or they’re just trying to give him space to fix himself. Grifol could stand to just shut up and give a simple, temporary explanations, instead of getting into a wrestling match with people who are clearly enjoying his hop scotch routine.


Getz having said “we’ll evaluate after the season” would have been a totally reasonable response and exactly the type of one given by plenty of other front office personnel in similar situations. And even if it had resulted in Grifol facing questions about it, so what? He is totally incapable of handling his job with or without that as a potential distraction.


The thing that the Sox and Pedro don’t seem to understand is that there is an implicit bargain between team and fans: if I am going to invest a significant chunk of time to watch a 500 hour, 162 part miniseries and consume daily content about what the characters are up to, then they need to put on a good show and be honest with me and somewhat transparent…otherwise I’ll just watch other content. There’s plenty of it available to stream.


Every day I wake up and thank God Pedro Grifol is not my dad.

In 18-1/3 innings this year, Ureña has as many strikeouts (9) as homers. He compensates by giving up 27 hits and 14 walks. When it comes to Ureña, there is no bottom of the barrel. You’ve obliterated the bottom and gone straight to the earth’s core.


Probably the biggest disappointment for me this year is Grifol. Everyone else in the organization proved my level of pessimism. But, I actually thought that Grifol MIGHT be a half way decent manager. Boy, was I wrong.


if you love a good shitshow, Grifol does not disappoint


Pedro Grifol, please go back to K.C.

As Cirensica

The fact that KC passed on Grifol is very telling.

Kopech is starting the 7th in his new role as I type this. Let’s see how that goes.

As Cirensica

It didn’t go well


The Royals didn’t want him! Maybe he should go to Arizona…because he’s such a D-bag.


Hopefully Getz says they haven’t even thought about firing Grifol… before launching him with the catapult sunward.


It’s like Grifol is trying to anticipate the argument he’ll get with every decision. Just make the decision for the right reason and explain the reason. Otherwise just say “because I said so”.


Not sure how Grifol can be so cocky when he sucks so bad as the manager. Sometimes all a person has to do is fool himself that’s he’s great and that’s all it takes.
Kopech has issues and I’m not sure it’s mechanical. Yogi Berra said that baseball is 90% mental and the other half is physical. I get the feeling that Kopech’s issues are 100% mental and I’m not sure if that can be corrected. That mental disconnect can be horrible. Remember Rick Ankiel and even longer ago, Steve Blass? They got to the point where they couldn’t throw a strike to save their lives. At least Ankiel could hit!