ATLANTA — Instead of succumbing to pessimism after Mike Soroka’s season-ending injury, the Braves are ready to tackle the enhanced challenges that await as they maintain their goal to win the World Series.
Its a huge loss, Braves president of baseball operations Alex Anthopoulos said. Theres no doubt about it.ATLANTA — Instead of succumbing to pessimism after Mike Soroka
‘s season-ending injury, the Braves are ready to tackle the enhanced challenges that await as they maintain their goal to win the World Series.
Its a huge loss, Braves president of baseball operations Alex Anthopoulos said. Theres no doubt about it. Youre never going to make up for not having a guy like Soroka in your rotation, but someone else is going to get an opportunity. Were going to continue to work and be as good as we can be.
Within the next week, Soroka will undergo surgery to repair the torn right Achilles tendon he sustained during Monday nights loss to the Mets. The Braves will wait a few months before setting a timetable for their aces return.
But it seems safe to assume Sorokas preparations for the 2021 season will be affected. Most pitchers have needed at least five months to recover from this injury. So theres a chance the 23-year-old hurler will not be ready to make a second straight Opening Day start.
To be fair to Mike, I dont want to put any specific timelines on it, Anthopoulos said. I know everyone heals their own way. There are certainly different examples. As he progresses through his rehab, well be able to update the media and everybody when that does occur, likely late in the winter.
The Braves placed Soroka on the 45-day injured list and designated right-handed reliever Chris Rusin for assignment on Tuesday. Right-handed reliever Huascar Ynoa and Chad Sobotka were promoted from the teams alternate training site to provide some bullpen depth for the next few days.
But the primary need is to fix the fractured rotation.
Since Summer Camp started on July 3, the Braves have lost four projected starters from their rotation. Cole Hamels (left triceps tendinitis) will remain on the 45-day injured list until at least Sept. 5. Félix Hernández elected not to play, and Mike Foltynewicz was outrighted to the teams alternate training site last week.
Maybe Hamels will finally be healthy, and maybe regaining weight will allow Foltynewicz to regain velocity. But the Braves still must evaluate what might be available via trades or within their own prospect pool.
With the playoff field expanded to 16 teams, there will likely be even fewer clubs willing to trade quality starting pitchers. In addition, the uncertainty that surrounds how the next few weeks and months might transpire will make teams more hesitant to pay what it would take to get an impact starter.
The likelihood is were going to go internal, Anthopoulos said, “but that doesnt mean we wont continue to look and make calls.
Looking at the internal options, the most intriguing one is Ian Anderson, who is the teams top pitching prospect (No. 3 among all Braves prospects) and the No. 37 prospect in baseball, per MLB Pipeline. Anderson thrived at Double-A Mississippi last year, posting a 2.68 ERA in 21 starts. But then, he appeared to battle fatigue as he produced a 6.57 ERA over five starts in his last month with Triple-A Gwinnett.
Unfortunately, the lack of a Minor League season has delayed development and enhanced the challenge of evaluating how close Anderson is to being big league-ready.
Andersons candidacy to join Atlantas rotation will also be influenced by the fact he is not currently on the 40-man roster. This has always been an influential variable, and it is even more so this year as teams place a greater value on overall depth.
Still, given the state of this rotation, it would seemingly be more beneficial to gamble on Anderson instead of taking yet another chance on Bryse Wilson, the club’s No. 6 prospect, who has a 5.56 ERA in five career starts. Wilson, like Sean Newcomb, seems to fit better as a reliever or possibly an opener.
As the Braves spend the next couple weeks with an expanded roster, manager Brian Snitker will have additional arms that will allow him to possibly use an opener or piggyback system with guys like Newcomb, Wilson and Touki Toussaint, who has reignited some intrigue via the recent development of a slider.
Theres also reason to hope Kyle Wright, the Braves’ No. 4 prospect (No. 51 overall), will build off his first two starts of the season and show why he remains a highly regarded prospect.
None of these options will create as much comfort as sending Soroka to the mound once every five days. But as Freddie Freeman said on Monday night, nobody will be feeling sorry for the Braves, who have no choice but to continue aiming for the ultimate goal.
Were always trying to win, Anthopoulos said. Thats not going to change.
Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001.