Hahn said Kopech is someone who can make a significant impact to the team over the course of 60 games. Wouldn't go too deep into roster construction at this point.— Scott Merkin (@scottmerkin) June 25, 2020
Kopech has always been a bit of a polarizing player, with people trying to focus on his significant upside while ignoring the obvious issues. The optimistic fantasy owners will take this little news bit and run with it, using it as a reason to target him. However we need to keep in mind that the role he’ll be utilized in has yet to be specified.
As is Kopech isn’t an obvious fit for Chicago’s rotation. In fact the five-man rotation is expected to look like this:
- Lucas Giolito
- Dallas Keuchel
- Reynaldo Lopez
- Dylan Cease
- Gio Gonzalez
There are questions regarding some of them, but they should get the first opportunity in what is the sprint of 2020. While Kopech should be inline to step in should there be a need, he’s also not the only one. There also have long been questions surrounding Kopech and the role he’d ultimately fill. As we noted prior to 2018, when we gave him an “A-“ grade:
If Kopech can’t find his control consistently he could easily be shifted to the bullpen, where he will likely emerge as one of the elite closers in the game. While the White Sox will continue to try and develop him as a starter, given his upside potential, he should be an elite talent regardless of the role.
Kopech missed all of 2019 after undergoing Tommy John surgery, so his role and usage always would’ve been a question in 2020. Even if he’s used as a “starter” the number of innings he’s allowed to go will be limited. Could he pitch the first 2-3 innings of a game, only to be followed up by a pitcher who is utilized in a similar role? Could he be thrust immediately into a late inning role? The White Sox do have Alex Colome, Aaron Bummer and Steve Cishek, but any or all of them could conceivably struggle.
The key for Kopech is going to be his control, something that was always a question. Given the time off and his past issues that’s hardly something that we can assume will be there. Given the uncertain role and the questions regarding his performance, there’s better “gambles” to take for this year’s sprint to the finish.
Source – Fangraphs
Make sure to check out all of our 2020 prospect rankings: