Good news first: Michael Kopech dropped some jaws with a high-octane first inning; it was downhill from there for the White Sox. (@CST_soxvan)
Michael Kopech got on the mound and quickly showed that he is back. Not just, “Hey, it’s my first game of competitive ball since 2018!” No. Kopech is BACK back, and tweets are a little better at describing the the pure joy of having the righthander back.
That … was … ELECTRIC! Kopech only went one inning, which is a good approach as he is coming off of Tommy John surgery. Odds are he will be in Chicago after the first month of the season, and maybe that estimate even pushes back until June. Whatever the case is, hitting 100 mph multiple times is the best news the Sox have had this spring training.
However, that was just the top of the first inning, so there was a lot more game to go. Let’s put it this way: The excitement went away pretty quickly.
Maybe Drew Anderson was busy fawning over Kopech like everyone else, but he came into the game and did not do well out of the gate. Drew was all over the place, allowed three hits and walked two in his first inning on the bump, although Tim Anderson did not help any, with his third error of the spring. Drew’s second inning was much better, but he was finally lifted for Carson Fulmer in the fourth after allowing his fourth run. Really the only positive during Anderson’s outing was that Yasmani Grandal added another spring hit to his tally.
Quite frankly, depending on injuries and how well Andrew Vaughn continues to do when the games matter in the minors, today’s lineup looked like an August or September down-the-stretch lineup (maybe sans Adam Engel, but he was hitting ninth so it still fits).
But, more excitingly, back to Kopech.
Back to Yasmani Grandal:
Man, Grandal can do anything — what a fantastic signing. There are no holes in his game.
Now, back to Fulmer:
This game did not have a lot of positives, but Fulmer was one. Almost his entire spring has been great, and even that breaking ball on the Grandal caught-stealing had pretty good late movement. Even though Fulmer was pretty bad last season, he showed clear signs of improvement on just about everything. Obviously, it is very early to say the former first round pick is finally looking like it, but Fulmer has been very impressive. He now has a 1.86 ERA so far this spring.
Other than Kopech and Fulmer, no other pitcher really did well today. Codi Heuer finally looked like a minor leaguer, and Kodi Medeiros allowed the ninth and final run to the Rangers.
As for the offense, it finally added some runs — once the bench guys came in. There were not fireworks with these runs, they were not because of big hits, but runs are runs. Gavin Sheets finally broke the Sox out of the goose egg with a sac fly in the eighth inning. Zack Collins added the second and final run for the Sox with a single. With that, Collins is now hitting .333 and has an OPS of 1.261. So, while Yermín Mercedes is getting headlines (including from myself), Collins is still doing well enough to hold him off for the Opening Day roster at this point.
Sure, the Sox lost, but the best news of the day was that Kopech stole the show.
If you want some back-field work, James Fegan has you covered with some young guys.