If you're a prospect guru, you'll know the name Michael Kopech from years of hype surrounding the elite stuff he possesses and his ceiling as a number-one starter. He had a really promising year back in 2021, and took a slight step back in 2022, but has really regressed statistically in 2023, posting a 5.97 ERA in his first six starts.
So, why would I suggest he'd be an upgrade for the Cardinals' rotation? Well, if you're familiar with the Stuff+ stat, it basically measures how "nasty" a player's pitches are based on release point, velocity, movement, and spin rate. Out of pitchers who have thrown 30+ innings this year, Kopech ranks 9th in all of baseball.
This isn't like Jordan Hicks from prior seasons where the stuff look's good but he doesn't actually punch guys out. In 2021, Kopech had a 13.4 K/9 and matched that with a 2.97 FIP as well. He struggled to strike out guys at the same rate last year, but he's back up to a 9.7 K/9 in 2023.
While Dusty Blake has gotten a lot of flack this year for his ability as a pitching coach, it's not really within his control that he's working with a lot of veteran starters who lack strikeout stuff. Blake is an analytics guru who can help starters miss more bats, and pairing him with Kopech could do wonders for the 27-year-old and the Cardinals' staff.
Kopech is under team control through 2025, making him an immediate and long-term upgrade for the Cardinals. If the White Sox are willing to cut bait, even if it takes a valuable young bat, the Cardinals should strongly consider this.