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Apr 27, 2022 10:27 pm

White Sox’s improved Michael Kopech takes on Royals’ Brad Keller

Chicago White Sox right-hander Michael Kopech boasts a low 0.64 ERA and 15 strikeouts in 14 innings covering three starts.

If only Kopech had a victory to show for his efforts.

He’s set to make his next attempt Thursday as the White Sox aim to secure a series victory in the finale of a three-game set against the visiting Kansas City Royals. Kopech (0-0, 0.64 ERA) gets the call against Royals right-hander Brad Keller (0-2, 2.55).

“Every start he’s improved,” White Sox manager Tony La Russa said of Kopech. “When you’ve got talent like that and you want it and you’re willing to work and listen, that’s a powerful combination.”

Kopech struck out a season-high seven during Friday’s no-decision against the Minnesota Twins while scattering three hits and one walk in five shutout innings.

“Obviously the goal is to go out there from the first pitch on and ride that wave,” Kopech said. “Sometimes that’s baseball and you’ve got to see how everything’s going before you settle in. I settled in a lot quicker than I had in my first two (starts). I was excited about that.”

Kopech said he had “better command of my pitches” against the Twins and was bullish about his growing repertoire with backup catcher Reese McGuire, who has caught each of Kopech’s three starts to date.

“He’s been able to see what’s working and what’s not out of the gate,” Kopech said of McGuire.

After losing 6-0 in Tuesday’s series opener, the White Sox rallied for a 7-3 victory on Wednesday afternoon to snap an eight-game losing streak. Andrew Vaughn and Jake Burger each homered as Chicago topped four runs for the first time in 12 games.

Kansas City, which stopped a four-game skid Tuesday, is hopeful Keller can rebound from his roughest outing to date this season.

Pitching Friday at Seattle, Keller allowed four runs, three earned, and six hits in 4 2/3 innings while walking two and striking out four. Keller delivered seven innings of two-run ball in his previous start on April 15 against Detroit.

At any rate, the Royals will need to back the righty more than they have in the season’s first month. Kansas City has provided a mere three runs of support combined in Keller’s first three starts. The team struck out 13 times on Wednesday, but manager Mike Matheny lauded the way the Royals responded to tie the game after an early 3-0 deficit.

“They completely had us put down and we figured out a way to scratch back,” Matheny said. “Taking bases when they give them to us and then getting the big hits when we just put them in where they weren’t.”

Kopech is 0-0 with a 4.97 ERA in seven career appearances against the Royals, including one start, with 16 strikeouts in 12 2/3 innings.

Keller enters with a 5-5 record and 3.48 ERA in 16 appearances and 13 starts versus Chicago. Keller’s 77 2/3 innings against the White Sox are his most against any team.

After leaving in the sixth inning Tuesday with left knee discomfort, Royals shortstop Adalberto Mondesi missed his first action of the season Wednesday. Matheny said Mondesi would undergo further evaluation, but the organization did not anticipate a trip to the injury list.

–Field Level Media

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