Maybe now we know why Michael Kopech’s velocity was down in his last start.
On the heels of a disastrous performance on Wednesday, in which Kopech gave up seven runs in 3⅓ innings, the White Sox announced that their pitching phenom underwent an MRI that revealed a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right arm. The doctors who performed the evaluation recommended that he have Tommy John surgery, and Kopech is seeking a second opinion to confirm.
The 22-year-old averaged just 94 mph with his fastball on Wednesday after hovering around 96-97 in his first three starts. Particularly during his fourth inning meltdown, he had noticeable trouble dialing up the heat. Kopech threw 140⅔ innings between the majors and minors, just surpassing the career high of 134⅓ he set last season, so this is injury is probably more of the “All pitchers inevitably break” variety.
I don’t have to tell you that this is a huge blow to the White Sox’s quest to rebuild into a contender. It’s a huge blow to any Sox fans hoping to watch Kopech continue to impress in the majors in 2018. It’s also a huge blow if you’ve been looking forward to watching him pitch in 2019. I hate to break it to you, but that’s not going to happen. At a time when the White Sox will be looking to make a splash in free agency and turn some heads next season, this is an enormous setback. I won’t say that this alone could derail the entire rebuild, but its chances of success just took a significant hit.
If you thought three rain delays in three home starts was unbearable teasing, now we have to wait until 2020 to see what Kopech can do. This September just got a whole lot darker.