As Clevinger throws a gem in 6-0 win, White Sox move Kopech to bullpen
Given the way he's performed this season, especially in the second half, Michael Kopech had to know a change was coming.
It did, before the White Sox's 6-0 win over the Tigers Friday night at Comerica Park.
While manager Pedro Grifol said Kopech is "a starter," the 27-year-old righty is going to pitch out of the bullpen for the remainder of the season.
"Talked to him about it and we're going to back off a little bit and throw him out of (the bullpen)," Grifol told reporters. "That does not mean that he's a bullpen guy. It does not mean we're not going to start him in the future. We're going to back him off a little bit and try to get some wins here and there as far as him going out there an inning at a time or two innings at a time and start building him up."
As a starter, Kopech broke down after the all-star break. Not only was he 2-5 with a 7.49 ERA in 10 starts during the second half, Kopech walked 40 in 39⅔ innings.
Being demoted from starting to relieving is never easy for any pitcher, but Kopech understands the decision.
"Kind of giving me an opportunity to work on some things mentally and physically," Kopech said. "I would like to start; I'm grateful for the opportunity to do that. But at the end of the day, I'm a major-league baseball player and I'm a major-league pitcher, and whatever innings or inning I'm throwing doesn't change that fact. I'm extremely grateful to be in the position I'm in."
After missing the entire 2019 season recovering from Tommy John surgery and opting out the following year due to COVID-19, Kopech returned to the Sox in 2021 and primarily pitched out of the bullpen.
"I've gone down there before," he said. "I know that it's a little different preparing to come into that game than it is as a starter. But you don't have a whole lot of time to think or overthink, do tweaks and all that. It's more a get out there and get after it type of thing. We think that will serve me well. It's an opportunity I'm trying my best to embrace."
Mike Clevinger started for the White Sox Friday and he fared very well, allowing 3 hits and no walks over 7 innings to go with 7 strikeouts.
The Sox need rotation help next season, but Clevinger (7-7, 3.64 ERA) isn't likely to be back. The Sox placed him on waivers in late August and he went unclaimed.
Clevinger has a $12 million mutual option for 2024, but the White Sox are expected to opt for a $4 million buyout.
Detroit starter Reese Olson had a no-hitter going Friday until Luis Robert Jr. ended the bid with a one-out double in the seventh inning.
Yoan Moncada followed with a 2-run homer and the Sox tacked on 4 more runs in the eighth.
"It makes it a little more fun," Clevinger said of his matchup against Olson. "You're always competing against the other team, every hitter. But it's also fun to have those pitcher's duels to see who can outlast who. (Olson) had really good stuff."