BALTIMORE — After lasting four batters and throwing 19 pitches against the Royals on Monday, White Sox starter Michael Kopech landed on the 15-day injured list with a strained left knee.
The Sox recalled left-handed reliever Tanner Banks from Triple-A Charlotte.
Kopech, the Sox’ third-best starting pitcher behind Cy Young candidate Dylan Cease and American League Player of the Week Johnny Cueto, owns a 4-9 record and 3.58 ERA in 23 starts and has thrown a career-high 110‰ innings in his first full season as a starter, an innings log that was being monitored.
With that in mind, the Sox and Kopech, 26, are putting a positive spin on the IL stint that will give him time to rest his upper half. They expect him back when the 15 days are up on Sept. 7 while the Sox are on a trip to Seattle and Oakland.
“I’m at a point where I’ve thrown a lot more than I threw last year,” Kopech said Tuesday. “I don’t know if rest was inevitable, but it was definitely being considered, so it’s probably a good thing for me at this point. Come back and be somewhat fresh and help with this final push.”
“Could be a blessing in disguise where it’s not to where he’s pushed too far,” manager Tony La Russa said.
“Big two weeks, though.”
After the Sox play an Orioles team that impressed them with three wins in a four-game series in Chicago in June, they return home to host the Diamondbacks, who were 55-66 entering Tuesday. The Sox trailed the first-place Guardians by three games in the AL Central.
“We need a lot of wins,” La Russa said. “I mean, the Orioles have really been impressive. They came to our place and beat us three out of four, no fluke. They play solid, catch the ball well, play hard every day, have pitching, the bullpen. Scary guys out there.”
Kopech likely will miss two starts. Davis Martin (4.04 ERA in 22 innings over four starts) is expected to be called up from Charlotte to take those starts. Kopech was lined up to pitch against the D-backs on Saturday.
All four batters reached base Monday, and Kopech was charged with four runs in a 6-4 loss. On June 2 in Chicago, Kopech left his start against the Rangers with soreness in his right knee. He said he has managed that soreness.
As for the left knee, the specifics of the injury are not known. Kopech feels it behind the knee but can’t pinpoint a specific spot.
“Not really, no,” he said. “I know that I can walk around on it, do cardio on it and everything and not really have any problems. I can still kind of feel getting over that front side. As far as the specifics of it, I don’t really know.”
Kopech joins Tim Anderson, Yasmani Grandal, Aaron Bummer and Leury Garcia on the IL, and he leaves a rotation boasting a 3.23 ERA since July 23, third-best during that stretch in the AL. The Sox will need to round up all the healthy bodies they can to make one final push at playing good enough baseball to make the postseason a third year in a row.
“It’s important for me to get back for myself, but it’s important for the team to have all the moving parts working together, especially when we are trying to make a push toward the end,” Kopech said. “Hopefully guys who have been struggling and that have been on the IL get to come back, and we get to make a push together. And I hope to be a part of that, and hopefully we get to play some October baseball this year.”