Mike Soroka‘s return to MLB will not be in 2022, with the Braves placing the starter on the minor league injured list with right elbow soreness, as reported by Justin Toscano of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Manager Brian Snitker told reporters (including David O’Brien of the Athletic) there’s no structural damage, but Soroka will nevertheless be shut down and turn his attention to 2023.
It is yet another lost season for the now 25-year-old, who broke into the majors in early 2018 just shy of his 21st birthday. He would then deal with inflammation in his pitching shoulder and only pitched 25 2/3 innings. However, Soroka returned healthy in 2019 and posted a 2.68 ERA in 29 starts, totaling 174 2/3 innings with an average 20.3 K% and 5.9 BB% en route to an All-Star appearance, NL Rookie of Year runner-up, and a 6th place finish in Cy Young voting.
On the heels of his great rookie season, Soroka was named the Braves’ Opening Day starting pitcher, becoming the youngest ever in the team’s modern history. However, after only 13 2/3 innings, Soroka tore his Achilles tendon midway through a start — ending his 2020 season. Soroka began the 2021 season on the 60-day injured list while continuing his rehab. However, in a cruel twist, as he was progressing, he had a setback and was forced to undergo a second surgery on his Achilles, ending his 2021 season.
Soroka returned to the field in August, with the Braves optioning him to Triple-A Gwinnett after his activation as he worked his way back from three surgeries on his Achilles tendon. However, in 21 innings pitched (five starts) in Gwinnett, Soroka has given up 20 hits and 15 earned runs.
In his absence, the Braves haven’t missed a step. Fresh off winning the 2021 World Series, Atlanta’s starting rotation has held steady. Led by Max Fried and Spencer Strider, the rotation features five pitchers who have each made at least 20 starts. Collectively, Braves starters have posted the sixth-lowest ERA, sixth-most innings pitched, and the second-highest K% at 25.2% league-wide
Soroka agreed to a $2.8MM salary to avoid arbitration this past offseason. He’ll be eligible for arbitration twice more after this season and is unlikely to receive much of a raise (if any) after another lost year, assuming the Braves tender him a contract.