The Braves announced Thursday afternoon that right-hander Michael Soroka has been optioned to Triple-A Gwinnett. That was generally expected considering a hamstring injury knocked him out of the race for the fifth starter’s role out of camp.
An All-Star and Rookie of the Year runner-up in 2019, Soroka is looking to return to a big league mound for the first time in nearly three years. A ruptured Achilles tendon three starts into the 2020 campaign required surgery that came with a year-long recovery process. As he was nearing a return to game action, the Achilles blew out again and put his rehab back at square one.
Soroka was able to make it back at the tail end of last season but wasn’t in position to be thrust into the middle of a pennant race. The Braves gave him five starts in Gwinnett before shutting him down with some shoulder fatigue they attributed to the long layoff. He was generally seen as one of three candidates for the #5 starter role entering camp — Ian Anderson and Bryce Elder being the others — but hamstring soreness shut him down for the first couple weeks.
The 25-year-old returned to the mound yesterday, going through the Tigers’ batting order once in Grapefruit League play. It’s a positive step but certainly not the endpoint, as he’ll continue to build pitch counts in future appearances. Atlanta will send him back to Gwinnett to do so with an eye towards a potential midseason call.
Anderson and Elder have been healthy this spring but were outpitched in exhibition play by prospects Jared Shuster and Dylan Dodd. The Braves optioned both Elder and Anderson last week, leaving the #5 job to one of the hurlers who have yet to make their MLB debut. Manager Brian Snitker didn’t tip the organization’s hand on that camp battle this morning, praising both pitchers and noting the club still has yet to make that decision (link via Justin Toscano of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution).