Michael Kopech

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Michael Kopech earns first win with White Sox, bringing us closer to evaluation of Chris Sale trade

John Tomase
August 27, 2018 - 10:54 am

We're about to have a much better idea of who won the Chris Sale trade.

The early returns have been a predictable knockout for the Red Sox, with Sale pitching like a Cy Young candidate in each of his first two seasons. But the young talent returned to the White Sox is starting to reach the big leagues, and a full accounting of Chicago's return won't be possible for another three-to-five years.

On Sunday, flame-throwing right-hander made what amounted to his first legitimate start in the big leagues, and he left with his first win after limiting the Tigers to one run in six innings while throwing upper-90s fastballs.

It was technically Kopech's second start, but his debut last week against the Twins was shortened to two shutout innings by rain. On Sunday, Kopech allowed seven hits and struck out four. Perhaps most encouraging, he once again didn't walk anybody, an accomplishment for a pitcher who has averaged over four walks per nine innings throughout his minor league career.

The 22-year-old told reporters after the game that he didn't actually feel top-notch.

"I know it sounds silly to say that in my second start in the big leagues, I didn't have my best stuff," Kopech told MLB.com. "But I didn't have my best stuff today, and it was one of those outings where I had to grind through it. I'm fortunate to know that now, when I do have to grind through it, I know that my stuff is good enough to still get big league hitters out."

Kopech has posted eye-popping strikeout totals throughout his minor league career, including 170 whiffs in just 126 1/3 innings this year. He joins second baseman Yoan Moncada, who was the other major piece in the Sale trade, in Chicago. Moncada is hitting .221 with 16 homers in a disappointing season that has featured 181 strikeouts.

So for now, the Red Sox remain clear winners. Perhaps one day Kopech will change that.