Atlanta Braves 2023 season review: Michael Soroka's roller coaster ride

2023 proved to be a tumultuous return for the Canadian right-hander, showcasing many ups and downs.
St. Louis Cardinals v Atlanta Braves
St. Louis Cardinals v Atlanta Braves / Matthew Grimes Jr./Atlanta Braves/GettyImages

After an incredible 2019 campaign, Michael Soroka was poised to be the next young stud pitcher, placing 6th in the NL Cy Young vote in his first full season. Dubbed "Maple Maddox," the Canadian pitcher was highly touted for his excellent control and smart pitching. While not overbearing, injuries did not seem as if they were going to be much of a concern.

However, 2020 proved to be a nightmare. In just his third start of the season, Soroka tore his right Achilles, taking him out for the entire year. Even after extensive rehab and multiple surgeries, his injury was not making the progress hoped for. Around June 2021, it looked as if he had developed enough strength to start pitching. Yet his right Achilles failed him again going down the stairs to the Braves' clubhouse.

Happening a second time was no doubt one of the largest gut punches a player can take, especially with so much already proven at a young age. Rehabbing through 2021, Soroka got his first taste of redemption in 2022, pitching in his first competitive game in two years for the Rome Braves. Soroka continued pitching well for the Gwinnett Stripers, earning a call back to the big leagues in 2023.

2023 Season

As the back end of the Braves rotation was struggling with injuries and poor performance, Soroka's return was promising for the organization and fans alike. Soroka saw a strong April for the Stripers, holding a 1.32 ERA over the first three starts.

Allowing more than three runs only twice through eight games, the Braves called him up on May 29th, to pitch against a struggling Oakland A's squad. Yet, the A's hit Soroka hard, earning four runs through six innings. His next start bought much of the same results, as the Diamondbacks put up seven runs in 3.2 innings.

Through two rocky starts, Soroka was sent back to Gwinnett. Nevertheless, he pitched excellently during the span. He allowed three runs over nineteen innings, striking out eighteen batters. Seemingly finding his groove, Atlanta called him up again for a longer stint. However, his first start back was much of the same. He allowed two home runs and was hit hard against the offensively challenged Miami Marlins. In his next two starts, he only allowed two runs, yet was only able to get through 7.2 innings.

In his final game before being sent back to the Stripers, Soroka gathered a win allowing four runs through six innings to the Brewers. Even with the win, his challenges looked as if he was close to his usual, but just slightly off to becoming his dominant self. He was missing spots leading to a lot of contact, getting him in high-stress counts and full base paths.

In Gwinnett, he was fairly dominant in most games, limiting runners and putting away batters with strikes. Soroka would go on to pitch with the Stripers for six more starts before receiving a final call-up on September 5th against the Cardinals. St. Louis hitters saw the young righty well, putting up five runs in just three innings.

Looking for a fresh start, the Braves traded Soroka, along with others, to the Chicago White Sox for reliever Aaron Bummer. The move helped the Sox unload a contract, while players from both sides seek to return to their historical performance.


Overall, Soroka's 2019 run was key to bringing the Braves to a perennial powerhouse in the MLB. Beloved by fans, he was the youngest opening-day starter in franchise history. While injuries derailed his career for three years, 2023 was hopeful for him to contribute the the starting rotation.

Unfortunately, Soroka had a rollercoaster of a year on the mound. In AAA he was excellent, throwing a 3.41 ERA through 17 starts. On the other hand, for the Braves, his ERA inflated to 6.40 through 6 starts and a bullpen appearance. It was almost as if he needed a AAAA level for a gradual return.

While the Braves traded him, Soroka will be watched as he progresses and gets more starts for the White Sox organization. If he can return to form, it will be a steal for Chicago, but only time will tell.

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