CHICAGO – Besides being unable to control the weather, Michael Kopech had few flaws in his first three major league starts with the White Sox.
From his vantage point in the dugout, manager Rick Renteria liked what he was seeing from the 22-year-old phenom.
“At eye level, if you’re sitting here watching it, it’s pretty explosive,” Renteria said. “His delivery is really good. It comes out pretty easy. I can tell you as a former batter, if you have a guy who has some life on that fastball, it plays a little higher than the velocity.
“He has one of those electric fastballs. He has electric stuff.”
Kopech also had a 0.82 ERA before taking the mound against the Detroit Tigers on Wednesday night at Guaranteed Rate Field.
Just like his first two home outings, the right-hander had to wait out another rain delay. The latest one lasted only
29 minutes, so Kopech was able to stay in the game.
Before the skies opened, and after, as well, Kopech was not sharp. Lasting only 31/3 innings, he allowed seven runs on nine hits and a walk.
“I kind of knew going into it that not everything was going to be there,” Kopech said. “Early on, I thought I was going to be able to kind of grind through it, and that was the game plan, to get through everything regardless of the kind of stuff I had.
“Unfortunately in that fourth inning, I left a lot of pitches up, and they got hit.”
Kopech was far from phenomenal in the fourth, giving up five straight hits to open the inning, three of them home runs.
Renteria brushed off the sluggish start.
“You are not going to always be as sharp every single outing,” the manager said. “He tried to work through it. One of those days. I told him, ‘Hey there are a lot of better days ahead of you, so I wouldn’t worry about this one.’ ”
Kopech isn’t worried, but what about the noticeable dip in fastball velocity?
Big and strong at 6-foot-3, 205 pounds, Kopech regularly hit 97 to 98 mph in his first three starts. His fastball was 91 to
93 mph against the Tigers.
With 140 combined innings between Triple-A Charlotte and the Sox, Kopech is six innings above the career-high 134 he pitched last season. Fatigue is a factor at this late stage of the season, especially for young pitchers.
Has Kopech hit the wall?
“I don’t feel tired or anything like that,” he said. “I just feel like going into the game, there are things that I need to do better that I didn’t do. I didn’t feel like I prepared myself well for [Wednesday], and it showed. Just better preparation.”