Sullivan: Michael Kopech can’t stop throwing strikes

From Jeff Sullivan at FanGraphs on August 29, 2018:

Many would argue it takes a lifetime to become an adult. According to Dustin Garneau, catcher with Triple-A Charlotte, Michael Kopech did it in a day.

It was on July 5 at home against Durham, when Kopech exited after walking four and allowing four earned runs in three innings. Kopech’s reaction to the home-plate umpire on that night and the situation overall was not a positive one in Garneau’s mind.

“[Kopech] showed a lot of immaturity that game,” said Garneau, who joined the White Sox this weekend from Charlotte with Kevan Smith going on the paternity list. “The ump did squeeze him a lot. That didn’t help.

“But the way [Kopech] reacted to it, I told him that can’t work. After that game, he really learned maturity and now he is pitching.”

On the one hand, I can’t help but laugh at the idea of someone “learning maturity” after having a single conversation. People are a lot more complicated than that; personalities and instincts run a lot deeper than that. Personal change takes years of hard work, and it tends to come in fits and starts. No one just goes to therapy once. Not anyone who wants to get anything out of it.

On the other hand, there’s Michael Kopech. Now, I’m not saying it was all ever about his maturity level. Maybe Kopech just used to run into trouble because he was like any other imperfect pitcher, with imperfect mechanics. But with Kopech in 2018, there really does appear to be a moment where the switch just flipped. Into early July, Kopech was a big-stuff pitcher who couldn’t get out of his own way. Since the middle of that month, he’s dramatically changed his pitching identity.

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Originally published: August 30, 2018. Last Updated: August 30, 2018.