White Sox rookie Kopech goes up against Red Sox
On Friday, Kopech will get another opportunity to showcase his big arm in front of Chicago fans who have waited all season to see him promoted from the minors. The 22-year-old right-hander is 1-0 with a 1.13 ERA in his first two outings, walking none and striking out eight in eight innings.
His first start in Chicago, on Aug. 21, was limited to two innings before a rain delay ended his evening, as the White Sox elected not to put him back on the mound after the 52-minute interruption. He did not allow a run in that debut, while allowing three hits and striking out four.
Kopech’s next assignment is against the Boston Red Sox — the team that drafted him and helped to develop him before shipping him to Chicago as part of a deal that yielded ace left-hander Chris Sale.
What can Kopech do to avoid feeling too hyped up for his first time facing Boston?
“Take a deep breath and make pitches,” White Sox manager Rick Renteria said to the Chicago Tribune. “Hopefully he continues to develop, continues to command the zone. It’s electric stuff.
“Hopefully he’ll just continue to trust himself, which he is doing, and just enjoy being here. Know that he’s capable of doing what he’s doing because of this tremendous gift he has.”
Kopech declined to speak about his emotions heading into the start, instead telling reporters that he would speak about the experience after his outing Friday night.
Chicago (53-81) is feeling better about its fortunes despite a disappointing loss in Thursday night’s series opener. The Red Sox rallied for five runs in the ninth to claim a 9-4 victory.
Boston (93-42) has a strong starting rotation and a potent lineup, as evidenced by home runs from Mookie Betts (No. 29 of the season) and J.D. Martinez (No. 39) in the comeback win over Chicago.
The Red Sox will turn to right-hander Nathan Eovaldi (5-6, 4.15 ERA) in the second game of a four-game series. The 28-year-old will be making his seventh start since joining the Red Sox. He is 2-2 with a 3.94 ERA in his first six outings with Boston after going 3-4 with a 4.26 ERA in 10 starts for the Tampa Bay Rays.
In two career games (one start) against the White Sox, Eovaldi is 1-0 with a 3.52 ERA. He has walked five and fanned six in 7 2/3 innings.
Earlier this week, Eovaldi worked with Hall of Famer Pedro Martinez to fine-tune his delivery.
“If Pedro comes around and he has something to say, I’m going to listen,” Eovaldi said to MassLive.com. “He said he noticed something with my landing foot. I guess I land on my heel when I land. He was saying if I try to land more with my toe, he thinks I’ll have a little bit better control of my offspeed pitches. And really with everything. It will make the fastball better, too.”
The insights from Martinez served as a revelation for Eovaldi, who previously had focused on his arm.
“It definitely feels a little different just because I haven’t really been focusing on my landing foot,” he said. “I’ve been focusing on other things thinking that was the issue. We’ll have to see (Friday) how everything works out. But it definitely feels a lot better.”