White Sox start Michael Kopech in second game of doubleheader

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Vinnie Duber
·2 min read
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Kopech makes first start since '18 in Game 2 of doubleheader originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

Michael Kopech, starting pitcher.

The White Sox fireballer got his first start in a big league game since 2018, when he went down with the arm injury that necessitated his Tommy John surgery, in the second game of the team's doubleheader against the Boston Red Sox on Sunday at Fenway Park.

Kopech has pitched out of the White Sox bullpen in his first season of action since 2018. He missed the entirety of the 2019 campaign while recovering from the surgery and elected not to play during the shortened 2020 season due to personal reasons. But he's been excellent in relief so far in 2021, with just one run allowed in his 7.2 innings of work across four appearances.

RELATED: TA homers on first pitch of Sox-Sox doubleheader

"He's fired up, and we're fired up to watch him," White Sox manager Tony La Russa said of Kopech between games. "He wants to be a starter. But I think he understands getting his feet wet the way he is. He's been pitching in pressure situations.

"And on the days he gets to watch our veteran starters, who really know how to work between (starts), it's the best preparation for him, especially as we build up the strength in his arm."

The long-term plan is for Kopech to make his return to the White Sox rotation, though exactly when that will happen remains unknown. The team is taking a creative approach to working him back this year, hence his place in the bullpen, a role that La Russa said could evolve over the course of the season. Kopech is expected to be a full-time starter again come 2022, though that could happen sooner should he continue to excel and the White Sox believe him more effective as a member of the rotation down the stretch and into the playoffs.

His start in Game 2 of Sunday's doubleheader figured to be the beginning of a bullpen day, with La Russa saying that an efficient outing could net Kopech three innings of work in the seven-inning affair.

Kopech returned to a starting role, however briefly, against the organization that drafted him and traded him to the White Sox in the deal for Chris Sale back in 2016.

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