Braves option AJ Smith-Shawver to Gwinnett

MLB: JUN 04 Braves at Diamondbacks

This morning, the Braves announced they have optioned AJ Smith-Shawver to Gwinnett. In a corresponding move, Dereck Rodríguez has been added to the major-league roster.

Smith-Shawver had a rough outing against the Reds, but that shouldn’t take away from all the quality innings he was able to provide the Braves while they were desperate for starting pitching. As Justin Toscano reports, this decision was not about performance. They needed fresh arms in the bullpen after a wild series against the Reds.

That likely means Michael Soroka is up next.


Soroka made his first major-league start since 2020 at the end of last month, but he wasn’t given much of a leash. After two poor outings, he was optioned back to Gwinnett, but perhaps that’s exactly what he needed.

Since returning to AAA, Soroka has looked the best he has all season. In three starts, he’s allowed just three earned runs over 19 innings, and his last time out, he finished just one out shy of a seven-inning no-hitter. This is what the Braves have been waiting to see from Soroka, and while AJ Smith-Shawver was far from abysmal, Soroka was always going to get another shot if he could start to put together some quality starts in Gwinnett.

Hopefully, the Maple Maddux is here to stay this time around. He’s deserving of another opportunity soon, but Smith-Shawver’s time in Atlanta in 2023 is far from over. I expect him to be a critical piece to the Braves for the rest of the season, regardless of what happens with Soroka.

Photo: Zac BonDurant/Icon Sportswire

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