The Atlanta Braves will be without ace Max Fried and 2022 21-game winner Kyle Wright for a couple of months. Everyone is wondering what the long-term answer will be as to how the Braves will fill the holes in their pitching staff.
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Meanwhile, Michael Soroka is in Gwinnett attempting to work his way back up to the big leagues for the first time since 2020. On paper, Soroka seems like the obvious missing piece to the puzzle. Here is why that may not be the case.
Michael Soroka Has Started Six Games for Gwinnett in 2023
Soroka has made six starts in Gwinnett this year and posted a 5.47 ERA over 24.2 innings pitched. Soroka has given up 15 earned runs on 32 hits and seven walks. His 1.58 WHIP is not good. These numbers are very unlike the Michael Soroka we grew accustomed to prior to his first Achilles injury.
Soroka only allowed three earned runs over his first three starts with a six-inning shutout performance in the third start against the Royals Triple-A affiliate. Over his next 11 innings, he allowed 13 earned runs and his ERA sky-rocketed.
Are the Atlanta Braves Limiting Mike Soroka’s Innings?
The Braves smartly want to ease Soroka back and ensure he is completely ready before they bring him back full-time. They are not interested in sacrificing the 25-year-old’s future. They don’t expect Soroka to be his old self yet and probably are not interested in putting that sort of pressure on him.
Soroka went seven days between each of his first three starts. Then, he didn’t make his fourth start until 12 days later. The fourth start came on the most rest and was also his worst start, pitching just 3.0 innings and allowing seven earned runs (eight total).
His latest start on May 11th was the first time all year he started on five days’ rest.
The Bright Side of Soroka’s Season So Far
We talked about his first three starts and the hope it gave everyone about his prospects of rejoining the rotation sooner rather than later. While his control hasn’t been there for him, he has allowed just 2.6 walks per nine, which isn’t terrible.
Soroka is also dealing with another problem, potentially a good problem. Soroka’s stuff is better.
Earlier this season, we touched on how Soroka’s stuff appears to have leveled up from previous versions. The improved velocity and spin rates are still showing in his most recent start on May 11th.
As you can see from the tweet above, Soroka’s velocity and spin rates have maintained their improved versions. I’m just speculating, but perhaps Soroka is not only trying to regain his feel as a control pitcher, but he’s trying to get a feel for better stuff.
This is yet another reason for the Braves to maintain their patience with him. The coaching staff knows better than anyone if he’s ready to re-emerge as a Major League starter. In the meantime, I there are a lot of reasons to feel positive about his outlook and overlook a few bad starts.
In his previous start, he allowed three earned runs in the first inning and nearly did not make it out of the first frame. He battled back and looked good for the rest of his outing.
Soroka will be back when he’s ready and it will be glorious. The Braves are not going to rush it and will have to find other ways to fill the holes until then.