2018 Exit Interviews – Mike Soroka

2018 Exit Interviews – Mike Soroka

(This continued series focuses on how players performed this season with a look to 2019.)

Mike Soroka
25.2 innings, 3.51 ERA, 2.84 FIP, 18.6% K-rate, 6.2% BB-rate, 0.6 fWAR

2018: Soroka’s rapid ascension to the majors culminated in a call-up to begin May. He held his own against major league competition, flashing similar strikeout and walk rates as their minor league counterparts. He didn’t induce a lot of weak contact, but I think that’s more a fluctuation in numbers. Typically, Soroka gets a good deal of soft contact off his sinker/four-seamer mix in the low 90’s. He also sports a very solid slider. His change-up can also be a plus pitch that he didn’t use too often in his five starts.

Contract Details: Age-21 when 2019 opens. Team-controlled through at least 2024. Could be arbitration-eligible after 2020 as a Super 2 player. If he spends a month-and-a-half or longer in the minors between now and then, will likely be arbitration-eligible after 2021. Did not use an option this season so he still has three.

Previewing 2019: Assuming that he bounces back from his shoulder injury, Soroka could easily slide back into the Braves rotation to open next season. While there remains some disagreement about his ceiling as a major league starter (is he more of a Mike Mussina or a John Lackey?), the smart money is that whatever his ceiling may become, Soroka is going to be a productive pitcher in the major leagues. Certainly, we only saw a glimpse of Soroka this season (he threw just 56.1 innings total between the majors and minors). But he did nothing but continue to impress.

As far as the injury goes, it’s important to remember that Soroka was durable through his first two full seasons, tossing 296.2 innings total. There’s little reason to get worried about the idea that Soroka will be healthy moving forward.

If there’s anything else to watch with Soroka, it’s the continued development of his change-up. This is different than Luiz Gohara, who was our first exit interview. With Soroka, it’s not a worry that he won’t be able to go to the offspeed pitch. It’s good right now. But I think it can be even better. As in, I believe it can become an elite pitch compared to other pitchers’ offspeed option. If that happens and if it happens in 2019, Soroka could become the best pitcher on the Braves’ staff. As it is, if he’s healthy and pitching like he’s capable, it’s hard not to imagine Soroka in Atlanta despite all of the other arms at the Braves’ disposal.

Did you know? The last starter from Canada to make at least five starts his rookie year and have an ERA under 3.75 was James Paxton in 2014. The other two to do it since 2000 are Scott Diamond in 2012 and Shawn Hill in 2007.

9 Comments

Now THAT’S WHAT I’M TALKING ABOUT….Freddie!!!!!!!!!!!! The Braves/our offense NEEDED that 2 run jack to put The Braves up 2-0 in the bottom of the 4th inning!

I’m not expecting Freddie to hit a homer EVERY DAY or something CRAZY like that! However, prior to Monday’s game against The Cardinals…Freddie had ONLY hit ONE FREAKING HOMER in the month of September (the 1st 16 days of the month)…and ONLY A COMBINED THREE HOMERS since August 1st!

Today’s homer makes it 2 homers in 3 days. While we lost on Monday….we’re up 2-0 right now. Touki has looked decent the 1st 4 innings (58 pitches). Hopefully we’ll get at least 2 more innings out of him (3 would be nice) before going to the bullpen (AJ Minter is HELLA RESTED..given our current 4 game losing streak…he’s basically pitched one game since game 1 of The Giants series Monday of last week (he pitched Friday’s win over The Nationals).

Hopefully our best bullpen pitchers can pitch WAY BETTER than they did yesterday. Of course, some help from Snitker would help (you know…like taking advantage of pitching matchups in HIGH LEVERAGE SITUATIONS).

Soroka’s injury was HELLA disappointing this year. I’ve followed all of Coppy’s draft picks (the highly touted ones) since 2015. Soroka definitely interested me a lot the past few years…and I never say anything where he was injured/had to miss any starts in his MILB career.

When he was called up to The Braves in May, I was HELLA excited. I would like ‘this is the shot in the arm that our rotation needs’. I FULLY expected him to win AT LEAST 10 games this season.

Then after a few starts, he started developing these ‘shoulder issues’. He’d miss a couple of weeks, then come back and pitch a start or two, then these ‘shoulder issues’ would pop up again.

Nothing specific was ever stated by Braves Management when it can to exactly what kind of ‘shoulder issues’ plagued Soroka. Missing 4 months now (no surgery? Just rest?)…..I have no choice but to say that I’m getting a bad vibe about this. How can ‘just rest’ cure a ‘shoulder issue’…YET it takes ‘four months of rest’ to cure a 20 year old ‘shoulder issues’ (and he still ends the year on The 60 Day DL List).

I have a bad feeling..that once Spring Training Starts in 2019…Soroka’s going to develop some sort of ‘lingering shoulder issues that hasnt responded to rest’ diagnosis….that will end up requiring Soroka to undergo surgery to ‘clean up’ whatever is wrong with his shoulder.

If that’s the case…why not have Soroka undergo surgery this past summer? What a potential waste!

I’d love to be wrong….Soroka is one of the guys I have projected for The Braves Starting Rotation both in 2019 and 2020 (and beyond)! However, something about all this doesnt vibe right with me.

Anyone else feel the same way?

While AJ Minter didnt make it look pretty in the 9th inning today..the bottom line is that The Braves won, knocking down their Magic # to 6…meaning that if we take 3 of the 4 games against Philly starting tomorrow night…the last week of the season becomes a time where The Braves can rest any injured/nicked up players/set up our rotation for The Playoffs/give some playing time to our prospects.

We have to take care of business starting tomorrow. The Fans in Atlanta need to be HYPED UP. Snikter has to have these guys ready to freaking play.

If Snitker can get these guys to win these next 3 games (making Sunday’s game against Aaron Nola MEANINGLESS)…I’m ‘willing’ to give him a break until Playoff Time! However…if Philly ends up winning 3 or all 4 of these games….then all bets are off concerning Snitker!

This series…is the time for The Braves to win The NL East. Prolonging this until the last week of the season…would be PURE BS!

When it comes to shoulders and pitchers I don’t think anyone can know. I listened to a pod cast with a big shoulder doc who did a bunch of big pitchers and quarterbacks he said, “Shoulders are like leather pieces of cloth that has been used over and over and re attaching torn and used leather can end up with more thread than leather—and I’ve seen it in 20 year olds and 40–no way of knowing till you open them up.” He was referring to fixing a shoulder with surgery. He even said that sometimes a shoulder surgery can do more harm what it was trying to fix. He said rest is always the 1st choice. What I have read of Soroka is that he is a big gym rat–my hope is he did some light damage and the braves are being super cautious. I don’t think that is the whole story–but its my hope.

As far as the Philly series–we win tomorrow and I feel its done. I feel its done already, but really really almost done.

I really look forward to watching Soroka for a long time.

Andy…..a big part of me looking forward to The 2018 Season (I had assumed that we’d ‘struggle’ in the 1st half..then come The July Trade Deadline we’d trade the likes of McCarthy and Teheran, we would IMPROVE and play better in the 2nd half with a youth infusion that would get more productive as they played more games) was to see the likes of Mike Soroka and Kyle Wright join a rotation of Mike Folty, Sean Newcomb and Luis Gohara (people forget, before Gohara had his rough winter with the family issues and injuries, he was expected to possibly LEAD The Braves 2018 Rotation in wins/innings pitched..because he had innings-eating/’swing and miss’ potential).

Instead…The Braves got off to a hot start (along with Washington struggling to win games) when Ryan Flaherty and Preston Tucker played out of their minds in the month of April…as well as Nick Markakis playing at a MVP rate through May 13th (his numbers dropped, especially his power numbers, SIGNIFICANTLY after May 13th)…Folty and Newcomb showed SIGNIFICANT improvement, Sanchez surprisingly pitched well (even McCarthy pitched decent until mid-May)…leading to The Braves to a surprising 1st place showing.

As The Braves continued to reside in 1st place (except for a brief few games behind Philly BEFORE Philly went into an offensive/bullpen tank), AA had no choice but to switch gears and add pieces to the rotation/bullpen/bench (without giving up any of our best prospects…however I do feel that Bruce Zimmerman could end up developing into a nice middle of the rotation piece down the line for Baltimore).

I have to be honest, I was conflicted about our 2018 success…because I wanted to see The Braves have ONE MORE BAD season…which would result into 1. a HIGH 2019 1st round Draft pick AND signing bonus allotment…2. more prospects to add to the system by getting rid of McCarthy, Teheran, Markakis and Vizcaino.

Expecting Gohara, Soroka and Wright all to get their feet wet in the 2nd half of The 2018 Season (along with Acuna, Albies and Camargo all improving as the season went on)…along with AA’s likely spending spree during The 2018 Free Agent Offseason to address the lack of power in our offense…I was looking forward to 2019 being a huge breakout season.

Even though I’m ‘somewhat optimistic’ about The Braves 2018 Post Season prospects….I am disappointed in the sense that Gohara and Soroka are likely ‘question marks’ when it comes to what we can realistically expect from them in 2019. Gohara has great stuff…however this was basically a wasted season. He’s going to have to really focus this offseason and come into Spring Training BOTH healthy AND in much better shape! Soroka’s shoulder…big question mark. I would have really liked to seen him get experience this year (the 5 game ‘audition’ before he got hurt, he was hard hit at times, especially against Toronto).

Also, Kyle Wright and Bryce Wilson have basically been bullpen pieces in September. Only Touki Tousiant has been given a starting opportunity this year. While McCarthy got hurt instead of traded….The Braves kept BOTH Teheran AND Sanchez (a pleasant surprise after being a late Spring Training addition when it became apparent that Gohara wasnt going to be ready to open the season in The Starting Rotation)….AS WELL as trading for Gausmann..which pretty much eliminated any ‘open slots’ for our PLETHORA of young pitching prospects (until The Braves decided to go with Touki as our #6 starter in a 6-man rotation in August, lol).

So I can only hope that with there being NO dominant teams in The NL, perhaps The Braves can get lucky in The Post Season (Freddie getting hot, along with Acuna’s SUPERSTAR emergence….Folty and Newcomb deciding to quit nibbling and let their ‘swing and miss’ stuff turn them into The Braves version of Randy Johnson and Curt Shilling) and make a run at winning a World Series with considerably less talent than a number of Braves teams during our 1991-2005 Division Title run!

HOWEVER….as much as we’d like….there is no getting around the fact that Brian FREAKING Snitker….is The Braves Manager, lol. I’m shaking my head right now at THE PLETHORA of possibilities of him getting outmanaged (or outright making BONEHEADED bullpen decisions, lol)!

I hate having to hope that our Post Season games DO NOT come down to decisions Brian Snitker makes. Why cant The Braves have a manager like Joe Maddon or Terry Francona? Dave Roberts, Bud Black, Alex Cora, Craig Counsel…even the new Cardinals Manager all would be chomping at the bit to match ‘wits’ against Snitker in The Playoffs.

Andy…if healthy, I feel that Soroka can be more like GREG MADDUX! He’s on another level! Just imagine a healthy Soroka this season (in place of Teheran..or a struggling Newcomb, lol). We’d have already clinched right now. A healthy Soroka would have over 10 wins right now. Remember, he got called up on May 1st.

I like the Maddux call.

I think Gohara and Soroka will be back next year.

I hope Julio and newk are not.

Wright and Wilson are in the pen because they have pitched there asses off already.

Touki has done amazing as well. But if 1 has to start I’m glad they went with Touki.

Snit will snit.

I hope for a good draft pick—but it might be awhile for us to get a good pick like number 8 which is now number 9 this draft.

Selling off vets for prospects might not happen anymore.

Yes, maybe Julio and newk and perhaps even Folty next year….
But. It like ‘oh we signed that guy and if he does well we can get something!’ No more. I hope.

Andy….

1. I would not trade Newcomb (yet). He still has one year of pre-arbitration left. The Braves can afford to give him one more year to improve his walk-rate/getting his pitch count down some (not needed 100 pitches to get through 5 innings every time out, lol). Newcomb has a great arm (HELLA swing and miss stuff)….is a lefty at that (currently our only starting lefty).

However, with the number of arms we have pushing their way up our MILB system…2019 is a pivotal year for Newcomb (when it comes to whether he stays in a Braves uniform come 2020).

2. I have no problem with Bryce Wilson and Kyle Wright being in the bullpen right now (long term, BOTH are starting pitchers). My issue..is with how Kyle Wright is being used by Snitker. His stuff is SO GOOD…I’d rather see Wright used for one inning at a time (where he can air it out, not have to conserve his stuff for multi-innings)….than left out there to pitch more than one inning at a time. Wright has looked GOOD for the 1st inning in each of his appearances…then struggled in the 2nd inning he pitches. Once again, long term he’s a starting pitcher. However when it comes to using him as a bullpen option….I feel that having Wright pitching more than 1 inning at a time…renders him unavailable to come back the following day (or two or three, lol).

Bryce Wilson…is pretty much only pitching in mop up situations (until The Braves clinch the division…when he’ll probably start a game in the last week of the season).

3. I agree, Touki has been good! Him and Soroka (assuming his shoulder issues are a ‘blip’) at the top of The Braves Rotation for years to come…WOW, lol! With The Braves skipping Newcomb this series against The Phillies…suggest that they feel that he is ‘worn out’…making Touki a likely candidate for a post season starting nod.

4. Just because ‘Snit will be Snit’ (as you put it, lol)….doesnt mean that I have to quit complaining about his ass (it feels good to ‘let it out’, lol).

5. The #9 pick that we have in The 2019 Draft (as a result of The Braves not signing Carter Stewart in The 2018 Draft)..will probably be the last Top 10 Draft Pick (or anywhere close to that) The Braves make…..FOR A NUMBER OF YEARS! The Braves are set to be VERY GOOD (especially if AA is able to work his magic in The 2018 Free Agent Offseason AND during The Winter Meetings in December) FOR YEARS TO COME!

6. AA will be able to ‘pick and choose’ which vets he wants to ‘sell off’ in the next few years….depending on salary AND prospects pushing for playing time. Balancing the payroll (there will be high salaries for our VERY GOOD veterans that we want to keep…to be balanced with HIGHLY PRODUCTIVE/cheap younger prospects) will be essential IF The Braves want to remain competitive for a number of years.

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