Braves pitcher Michael Soroka placed on injured list in another potentially major setback


ATLANTA (AP) — The Atlanta Braves placed pitcher Michael Soroka on the 15-day injured list Wednesday in another potentially devasting setback for the former All-Star whose once-promising career was sidetracked by a pair of major leg injuries.

Reliever Collin McHugh also went on the 15-day IL 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, and complained of numbness in his fingers.

The team listed his injury as right forearm inflammation, signaling another potentially major injury for the 26-year-old Soroka.

“I think it’s probably a big deal,” manager Brian Snitker said ominously after the game.

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.

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 had 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. He's headed to the injured list with right shoulder inflammation.

The 25-year-old Vines returns to Atlanta after winning his big league debut at Colorado on Aug. 30. He allowed two runs over six innings in a 7-3 victory.

Heller has split time between Atlanta and Gwinnett since being claimed from the Tampa Bay Rays in early June. The right hander has a 4.41 ERA in 17 appearances for the Braves.