In 2018 and 2019, Atlanta Braves right-hander Michael Soroka was one of the most promising young pitchers in the National League.
He had a 3.51 ERA in 25.2 frames in 2018 and followed that up with a brilliant 2.68 ERA in 174.2 innings a year later.
After just 13.2 innings in 2020, however, the unexpected happened.
He tore his Achilles and missed the entire year.
Then, when he tried to return, he tore it again.
Long story short, he didn’t pitch at all in 2021 and 2022, not in MLB at least.
The Braves rotation was crowded in 2023 so he opened the year in the minors.
After completing eight starts with a 4.33 ERA in Triple-A, he was called up to start Monday’s game against the Oakland Athletics.
Here, you can watch his first strikeout in three years:
First MLB strikeout in nearly three years ✅
Michael Soroka is back doing Michael Soroka things. pic.twitter.com/e1sqxkStT7
— Bally Sports: Braves (@BravesOnBally) May 30, 2023
That was a beautiful changeup on the outside corner and a pitch that showcases Soroka’s main strength as a pitcher: command.
That’s what fueled his 2019 breakout in a hostile offensive environment.
He has above-average command and control, which makes up for his lack of elite fastball velocity.
All things considered, it was a good day for Soroka.
In six innings, he allowed four earned runs.
He was actually cruising through four frames, until he allowed four runs in the fifth.
Three of them came on a home run by Ryan Noda.
Soroka surrendered five hits and two walks while striking out three hitters.
He generated 11 swings-and-misses on 83 pitches, which is not bad for such a long layoff.
He will take the ball again on Sunday against the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Watching him take possession of one of the Braves’ rotation spots for the rest of the year would make for a wholesome story of resilience.NEXT: Braves Starter Completes Amazing Comeback