Michael Kopech needs Tommy John surgery, will miss 2019 season

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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.

MLB crowds jump from ’21, still below pre-pandemic levels

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PHOENIX — Even with the homer heroics of sluggers like Aaron Judge and Albert Pujols, Major League Baseball wasn’t able to coax fans to ballparks at pre-pandemic levels this season, though attendance did jump substantially from the COVID-19 affected campaign in 2021.

The 30 MLB teams drew nearly 64.6 million fans for the regular season that ended Wednesday, which is up from the 45.3 million who attended games in 2021, according to baseball-reference.com. This year’s numbers are still down from the 68.5 million who attended games in 2019, which was the last season that wasn’t affected by the pandemic.

The 111-win Los Angeles Dodgers led baseball with 3.86 million fans flocking to Dodger Stadium for an average of 47,672 per contest. The Oakland Athletics – who lost 102 games, play in an aging stadium and are the constant subject of relocation rumors – finished last, drawing just 787,902 fans for an average of less than 10,000 per game.

The St. Louis Cardinals finished second, drawing 3.32 million fans. They were followed by the Yankees (3.14 million), defending World Series champion Braves (3.13 million) and Padres (2.99 million).

The Toronto Blue Jays saw the biggest jump in attendance, rising from 805,901 fans to about 2.65 million. They were followed by the Cardinals, Yankees, Mariners, Dodgers, and Mets, which all drew more than a million fans more than in 2021.

The Rangers and Reds were the only teams to draw fewer fans than in 2021.

Only the Rangers started the 2021 season at full capacity and all 30 teams weren’t at 100% until July. No fans were allowed to attend regular season games in 2020.

MLB attendance had been declining slowly for years – even before the pandemic – after hitting its high mark of 79.4 million in 2007. This year’s 64.6 million fans is the fewest in a non-COVID-19 season since the sport expanded to 30 teams in 1998.

The lost attendance has been balanced in some ways by higher viewership on the sport’s MLB.TV streaming service. Viewers watched 11.5 billion minutes of content in 2022, which was a record high and up nearly 10% from 2021.