Chicago White Sox starting pitcher Michael Kopech (34) throws during...

Chicago White Sox starting pitcher Michael Kopech (34) throws during the third inning of a spring training baseball game against the Los Angeles Dodgers in Phoenix, Wednesday, March 6, 2024. Credit: AP/Ashley Landis

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Hard-throwing Chicago White Sox right-hander Michael Kopech will pitch out of the bullpen instead of the starting rotation, another disappointing development in a career that hasn't lived up to expectations.

“It’s not my first choice where I want to be. I like starting, but I’ve had success in that role," he said Thursday of relief duty. "Ultimately we are looking at what’s best for the team this year. If I can help us win games in the back of the game, I’m excited to do that.”

The announcement about Kopech came one day after Chicago traded ace Dylan Cease to San Diego for reliever Steven Wilson and three prospects: right-handers Drew Thorpe and Jairo Iriarte, and outfielder Samuel Zavala.

Acquired from Boston in the trade that sent Chris Sale to the Red Sox in 2016, Kopech had success in a primarily relief role in 2021 after missing two seasons because of Tommy John surgery and the COVID-19 pandemic. He had a 3.50 ERA in 44 appearances, helping Chicago win the AL Central.

Kopech has been inconsistent as a starter since and struggled in three spring training outings after going 5-12 with a 5.43 ERA last season. It was not clear what his bullpen role will be.

“We know that Michael has the capabilities to get anyone out in this game based on his stuff, and he did show that as a starter, even in his spring training outings,” general manager Chris Getz said. “However, being a starting pitcher and a desire to go deeper into games and be more efficient is something that we were aiming for. We hope the smaller bite at the apple, so to speak, and reliever outings — whether it be one or two innings — is going to be something that's going to be perhaps easier to accomplish for Michael and be better for the White Sox.”

Chicago went 61-101 last season, matching the third-highest loss total in franchise history.

More MLB news

YOU'VE BEEN SELECTED

FOR OUR BEST OFFER ONLY 25¢ for 5 months

Unlimited Digital Access.

cancel anytime.