Braves didn’t do him any favors, but Michael Soroka showed some encouraging signs in his return to the majors

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Michael Soroka made his highly anticipated return to the majors yesterday, stepping on an MLB mound for the first time in over 1,000 days. There wasn’t really anything that could make this moment a loss for Soroka; just returning to the majors after everything he’s been through is borderline miraculous. But if there was anybody who would be up for such a challenge, it is Soroka, and he proved that yesterday, despite the Braves falling to the lowly Athletics.

The Maple Maddux began the afternoon about as perfectly as one could have imagined. He set down the first three Oakland batters he faced, featuring a couple of weak grounders and one strikeout. The next inning was more of the same. The A’s were able to get their first baserunner of the day, coming on a two-out walk, but Soroka quickly put their hopes to rest with his second strikeout of the afternoon.

The 25-year-old’s first taste of adversity came in the third. Oakland was able to load the bases following a couple of singles and a hit-by-pitch; however, Soroka rose to the occasion this time, forcing an inning-ending double-play, a microcosm of what made him so great prior to all of the injuries. Soroka then set the A’s down in order again in the fourth, and it looked as if he was well on his way to a gem in his first start since 2020. Unfortunately, the A’s had other plans.

Soroka hit his second batter of the game to begin the fifth inning, and things got worse quickly after that. Two batters later, a single put runners on first and second, which was followed by another single that tied the game. A throwing error by Eddie Rosario also didn’t help, which helped put two more runners in scoring position. But that didn’t matter too much because the very next hitter–Ryan Noda–parked one just over the right field wall to give Oakland a three-run lead.

In an instant, Braves fans were all reminded that this is going to be a process, and yesterday was only the next step to getting Soroka acclimated to the major-league level again. The good news is he did settle down after that, setting down five of the next six batters he faced before his afternoon was finished after 83 pitches.

The Braves losing to the 11-win Athletics is frustrating, especially in Soroka’s return to the mound. It wasn’t the picture perfect ending everyone was hoping for, but I left yesterday’s performance impressed with what I saw.

As I’ve said throughout this entire season, Soroka still has some things to iron out. The stuff remains elite, but he’s gone through a lot of mechanical changes and has a tendency to lose his control at times, which was on full display yesterday. That’s not going to change overnight, but it should also only get better with more reps. In due time, he will start looking like the Michael Soroka we saw dominating the league back in 2019, and perhaps even better.

Photo: Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire

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