Mike Soroka‘s 2019 campaign seems like a lifetime ago, but the Canadian is poised to again toe the rubber of a major league mound in 2023. The Braves expect him to be fully healthy and compete for the final spot in the rotation in Spring Training. If he can carve out a role in Atlanta, there’s a legitimate chance he will receive Comeback Player of the Year recognition.
Last year may have been the most notable set of Comeback Player of the Year winners. Justin Verlander and Albert Pujols are two of the most decorated superstars in baseball history and added another award to their mantle. After hardly pitching in 2020 and missing the entire 2021 campaign, Verlander turned a 1.75 ERA last season, earning the AL Cy Young award unanimously. Pujoles slugged 24 home runs, crushing 18 in the second half of the season on his way to becoming the fourth player to hit 700 long balls.
Mike Soroka probably won’t match those two impressive seasons, but he’s more than capable of making some noise. He posted a remarkable 2.68 ERA over 174.2 innings as a rookie, accruing 4.0 fWAR and earning Cy Young recognition but would go on to suffer two Achilles injuries.
Alex Anthopoulos believes he will be a ‘stud’ again. Moreover, FanGraphs believes Mike Soroka will be the fifth-most impactful starter in the Braves rotation in 2023, over guys like Ian Anderson and Bryce Elder. The site projects him throwing in 32 games, including 16 starts, posting a 6-6 record over 108.0 innings with a 4.21 ERA and 4.03 FIP. Those numbers likely won’t win him the award, but I believe he could eclipse those figures.
If he were to win the award, he’d join Josh Donaldson and Tim Hudson as Braves players to win it. Soroka has all the intangibles to climb the mountain again; he’s only 25 years old. Anthopoulos is going to support his guys, but his confidence in Soroka returning to an elite level is something I didn’t expect. I’m excited to see him return to the mound for the Braves in 2023.
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