There had been a few rumblings on this earlier this week, and here we have it - White Sox flame throwers Michael Kopech and Garrett Crochet WILL open the season in the Sox bullpen.
This is a decently big story on the South Side for 2 reasons:
1. Everyone assumed Kopech would start in Charlotte so he could "get his feet wet" after not having really thrown in actual game situations since 2018" aka they wanted to get his extra year of service back. I actually do wonder if we have the Mariners idiot to thank for this one, though Kopech has FAR fewer reasons to open the season in Chicago opposed to Kelenic.
2. A lot of people thought Crochet would start in B-Ham as a starter and get his innings ramped up so he could start down the road too. Nope. He's starting the season in Chicago and he's going to be our (prime) Andrew Miller. Love it. He's disgusting.
I have been hyper-critical of many things about the White Sox offseason, but this will NOT be one of them. I actually love this move and they've seen success with it in the past, even as far back as Beurhle and most notably with Sale. Start a young pitcher in the pen, get him acclimated to big league lineups, build them up gradually throughout the season and then start them later in the year or in the year that follows. The Sox have enough starting pitching depth (though it's not GREAT pitching depth, just "enough" depth) to let Kopech build up innings and arm stamina so come July or August, he can start and throw 6-7 innings if need be without having to worry about reaching whatever innings limit they have in mind for him.
Kopech's shit is so good it'd be a waste for him to ramp up his stamina against AAA hitters. He's best served in the Sox pen right now, I fully believe that and down the road, I still think he can be their best starter, even with Giolito on the same staff. His raw shit is that good. This was just from last March, prior to spring training being shut down and Kopech opting out:
It does come as a moderate surprise that this is how they're going to deploy him, yes, but now that it's official I love it...
...and I love it because the White Sox already loaded pen is now all the more loaded. Their pen throws GAS. Legit gas. I'm not going to look, but I'd guess the White Sox pen is currently the hardest throwing pen in baseball with Kopech's addition. Here's what their pen will look like, followed by their average 4 seam velo in 2020:
CL: Liam Hendricks, 96.4MPH
SU: Kopech 95.6 (his velo was WAY down in his last start and it skewed his average)
SU: Heuer 97.9
SU: Crochet 100.4
SU: Marshall 93.0
SU: Foster 94.1
SU: Bummer 95.9 (sinker, filthy)
SU: Cordero 97.3
And then there's Burr who's mid/upper 90s and Ruiz who's near 100. I want my pen missing as many bats as possible, and the White Sox pen will miss a LOT of bats. This pen will be a huge strength this year, especially with the addition of Ethan Katz and their ever growing use of technology on the pitching side.
It's going to be a great season for the Sox. Again, I have my issues with Reinsdorf, but this roster is stacked and I cannot wait until it's unleashed on the world. There's been GREAT news in the last 2-3 days regarding Coronavirus and I think come June or July we might see some full-ish houses at Sox Park. Inject it right into my veins. This team is going to fuck.