Chicago White Sox general manager Rick Hahn announced today that rookie starter Michael Kopech needs Tommy John surgery. They will get a second opinion but based on how these things go you can bet your boots that it’ll match the first. Kopech is all but certain to miss the entire 2019 season.
Kopech, who has electrifying stuff and outstanding velocity, has only made four big league starts since debuting on August 21. In that brief time there have been highs and lows, but his 15/2 K/BB ratio suggested that all of the promise he showed as a triple-digit-throwing minor leaguer was well-founded. Articles have already been written calling him not just the future but the “savior” of the White Sox franchise.
Things turned ugly on Wednesday night, however, as the Tigers torched him for seven runs on nine hits — including four home runs — over just three and a third innings. While that was, at the time, chalked up to him just not commanding his pitches, the White Sox apparently learned at some point in the last day or two that he wasn’t right, sent him for an MRI and now this terrible news.
The only saving grace on this, I suppose, is the timing. If this didn’t happen or wasn’t caught before the offseason there’s a chance it could’ve kept him out for part of 2020 too. Now, at least, a full recovery schedule will only cause him to miss on season, assuming that recovery goes well.
On Sunday, we learned that while the Nationals would continue to pay their minor leaguers throughout the month of June, their weekly stipend would be lowered by 25 percent, from $400 to $300. In an incredible act of solidarity, Nationals reliever Sean Doolittle and his teammates put out a statement, saying they would be covering the missing $100 from the stipends.
After receiving some criticism, the Nationals reversed course, agreeing to pay their minor leaguers their full $400 weekly stipend.
Doolittle and co. have not withdrawn their generosity. On Wednesday, Doolittle released another statement, saying that he and his major league teammates would continue to offer financial assistance to Nationals minor leaguers through the non-profit organization More Than Baseball.
The full statement:
Washington Nationals players were excited to learn that our minor leaguers will continue receiving their full stipends. We are grateful that efforts have been made to restore their pay during these challenging times.
We remain committed to supporting them. Nationals players are partnering with More Than Baseball to contribute funds that will offer further assistance and financial support to any minor leaguers who were in the Nationals organization as of March 1.
We’ll continue to stand with them as we look forward to resuming our 2020 MLB season.
Kudos to Doolittle and the other Nationals continuing to offer a helping hand in a trying time. The players shouldn’t have to subsidize their employers’ labor expenses, but that is the world we live in today.