Atlanta Braves: Michael Soroka and why baseball isn't always fair

The story of Michael Soroka's time with the Braves is one of heartbreak and perseverance

Jul 21, 2023; Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA;  Atlanta Braves pitcher Michael Soroka (40) throws a pitch
Jul 21, 2023; Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA; Atlanta Braves pitcher Michael Soroka (40) throws a pitch / Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
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The rollercoaster career of Michael Soroka

The 2019 season was the high point of Soroka's career up until now. Showing no ill effects from the injury to a muscle in his shoulder from the previous season, Soroka would finish second in the Rookie of the Year voting and sixth in the Cy Young after putting up a 2.68 ERA in 174.2 innings of work. He was an All-Star and considered one of the best young pitchers in the game. All was going great.

Sadly, the biggest challenge was yet to come as Soroka tore his Achilles early in the 2020 season in what looked like a freak accident trying to field a grounder. These sorts of injuries are brutal, but there wasn't any reason to think that Soroka couldn't bounce back. His work ethic is widely known as unrivaled and there were no issues with his arm.

First, there was a setback where his body rejected the sutures from the surgery which resulted in a clean-up procedure. Then, not long after he started walking without a boot, Soroka tore his Achilles AGAIN just walking to the clubhouse. No warning and not doing anything just tore again. All of a sudden, we were in uncharted territory.

Two Achilles injuries to the same player, especially that close together, is not something anyone has much experience with. Jake Burger is the closest example, but he is a hitter and that is a different set of challenges. No one knew if Soroka would ever be the same guy he was or if he would even be able to make it back to the major leagues again. This is the type of injury that can end a career.

Undaunted, Maple Maddux got back to work.