Braves pitcher Michael Soroka out for the year but apparently won't need surgery


ATLANTA (AP) — Former All-Star Michael Soroka is out for the season but did receive a bit of good news: His latest injury apparently won't require surgery.

The Atlanta Braves placed Soroka on the 15-day injured list Wednesday in another setback for the right-hander whose once-promising career was sidetracked by a pair of major leg injuries.

After undergoing a battery of tests, the Braves medical staff determined that forearm inflammation was the cause of numbness in Soroka's fingers. No tears were found, leaving rest and rehab as the most likely path to recovery.

“He's done for the year. It's not anything he's going to have time to come back from," manager Brian Snitker said after an 11-6 loss to the Cardinals. "He'll be shut down and then he can kind of concentrate, when he gets ready, on his offseason program.”

Soroka returned this season after twice tearing his right Achilles tendon, and Snitker initially feared this was another devastating setback.

The manager sounded more optimistic 24 hours later.

“It’s one of those things that just happens," Snitker said. "I think what he did after coming back and getting this far is pretty good. Credit to him and his work ethic and determination and everything that he’s done to get this far, into September.”

Reliever Collin McHugh joined Soroka on the 15-day IL with right shoulder inflammation after getting roughed up Tuesday night in a 10-6 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals.

The Braves recalled right-handers Darius Vines and Ben Heller from Triple-A Gwinnett.

Soroka, who has pitched most of the season at Gwinnett, started the series opener against the Cardinals but lasted just three innings. He allowed five runs and four hits, including two homers.

Soroka was a All-Star in 2019, when he went 13-4 with a 2.68 ERA in his first full season with the Braves. He finished second in the NL Rookie of the Year voting and sixth in balloting for the league's Cy Young Award.

Then, in Soroka's third start of the pandemic-delayed 2020 season, the pitcher tore his right Achilles tendon during a routine fielding play.

After a follow-up procedure to address complications and nine grueling months of rehab, Soroka blew out the tendon again while simply walking into Truist Park, not long after a protective boot had been removed.

Other than one spring training appearance shortly before the start of the 2021 season, he did not pitch at all the last two years.

Soroka finally returned to the mound this season, though he started out in the minors as the Braves tried to ensure he was fully recovered and had regained the form he showed before the Achilles injuries.

There were some promising outings at Gwinnett, where Soroka went 4-4 with a 3.41 ERA in 17 starts, but he never resembled the guy who was one of baseball's most dynamic young pitchers.

The MLB-leading Braves brought him up three times to make spot starts in their injury-plagued rotation. Soroka went 2-2 with a 6.40 ERA in 32 1/3 innings, surrendering 36 hits, 12 walks and nine homers over six starts and one relief appearance.

Now, his future in the big leagues is at another crossroads, though Snitker praised Soroka for getting this far.

“After everything he’s been through, holy cow, there ain’t nothing going to stunt that guy," the manager said. "He’s had everything thrown at him you can probably have these last few years and handled it all. He’s a strong individual.”

The 36-year-old McHugh has been a workhorse in the Braves' bullpen, logging 58 2/3 innings in 41 appearances. Only Michael Tonkin (68 2/3 innings) has put in more time among Atlanta relievers.

But McHugh struggled with a 4.30 ERA, allowing 70 hits with 22 walks, and there was plenty of speculation that he might be dropped from the Braves' postseason roster — especially if injured relievers Jesse Chavez or Nick Anderson were able to return.

McHugh gave up four runs in three innings after taking over for Soroka in Tuesday's loss.