Don Cooper’s tenure as the White Sox pitching coach is over.
Rick Hahn announced Monday morning that Cooper, who has been coaching up arms on the South Side since the 2002 season, will not return to the role for the 2021 campaign. This in the wake of the team parting ways with manager Rick Renteria, as well, Monday.
Cooper spent 18 seasons as the White Sox pitching coach, a lengthy stint highlighted by a World Series championship in 2005. He’ll always be remembered for his work with that year’s starting rotation, which was excellent all season long and saw Mark Buehrle, Jon Garland, Freddy Garcia and Jose Contreras team for four consecutive complete-game victories in the ALCS to lead the White Sox to the franchise’s first pennant since 1959.
Cooper has been a part of the White Sox organization for more than three decades, first hired as the pitching coach for the team’s Class A affiliate in South Bend, Indiana, in 1987.
During the 2020 season, the White Sox pitching staff ranked sixth in the big leagues with a 3.81 team ERA. Lucas Giolito and Dallas Keuchel were two of the best pitchers in baseball, Giolito ranking second in the AL in strikeouts and Keuchel rankings second in ERA. Giolito threw the 19th no-hitter in club history in August and took a perfect game into the seventh inning in his lone playoff start.
But behind them, some huge question marks loom, and the lack of a reliable third starting pitcher doomed the White Sox in their best-of-three postseason series. Though offseason additions to the staff could come, the uncertainty surrounding Dylan Cease, Dane Dunning and Michael Kopech threatens the chances of a team heading into 2021 with championship expectations.
Who could replace Cooper? Hahn said that staff decisions will be made in conjunction with the team’s new manager. He also mentioned candidates inside the organization. Those could include Triple-A pitching coach Matt Zaleski, minor league pitching coordinator Everett Teaford, Class A pitching coach Danny Farquhar, among others.