680 THE FAN, ATLANTA – Monday night, Braves fans worst fears came true as their 22 year old ace Mike Soroka went down in a heap in front of the mound with a torn right Achilles. Soroka was helped off the field by Assistant Athletic Trainer Mike Frostad and his manager, Brian Snitker. Soroka wasn’t putting any weight on his right leg, and speculation began immediately that it was indeed a major injury.
Losing Soroka is not only a big blow here locally in Atlanta, but it’s a big void for Major League Baseball. Soroka has been one of the brightest young starts of the game, representing Atlanta in the 2019 All-Star Game in Cleveland as a 21 year old. For many baseball fans, you love to look at pitching matchups, and on paper, last night’s was about as good as it gets. The two-time reigning Cy Young Award winner in the NL Jacob deGrom, up against a guy who finished sixth in the Cy Young voting last season, and runner-up to Pete Alonso for NL Rookie of the Year.
The Braves rotation has had plenty of question marks surrounding it here in 2020, but this is by far the biggest one to date. How do you fill the void of your ace? You’ve already moved on from your number four starter in Mike Foltynewicz after just one start. Sean Newcomb has been wildly inconsistent. Kyle Wright has shown glimpses of growing into the guy the Braves think he can be, but still has a long way to go. And Cole Hamels, well, still isn’t any closer to a return.
Trading for a starter has now become the top priority for this team. But, two major challenges await. First, with more than half the teams in the Majors making the Postseason this year, finding a GM that’s willing to part with starting pitching this early in will be next to impossible. Also, in years past, teams were hesitant to part ways with top prospects in exchange for pitching because in most instances, it ended up being a two month rental. With the uncertainty surrounding the virus and how it could affect the 2020 season and more importantly, postseason, that prospect became even more challenging. I have no doubt Alex Anthopoulos is already working the phones. But teams will know the Braves are desperate in the pitching department, so that cost just increased significantly.
Freddie Freeman said it best. Losing Mike Soroka “just sucks.” Not just for Braves fans, but for baseball fans who appreciate watching the best pitchers in the game go out every five days and make it look so easy. Speedy recovery, Mike.
Kevin McAlpin has covered the Braves since 2012 for @680TheFan and the @BravesRadioNet