What are the Braves doing with Michael Soroka?

MLB: JUN 04 Braves at Diamondbacks

In case you missed it yesterday, the Braves made several roster moves ahead of their series against the Red Sox, which included optioning Michael Soroka back to Gwinnett in favor of Yonny Chirinos.

This comes after Soroka gave up four earned runs over six innings to the Brewers last Friday night. He was scheduled to pitch again this weekend against the same Brewers team, so the question is… why?

Soroka has been far from the brilliant version he was before suffering back-to-back devastating Achilles injuries, costing him more than two full seasons. He boasts a 5.52 ERA over a couple of stints with the Braves, but his last three starts have been somewhat encouraging.

On June 30th against the Marlins, Soroka surrendered three earned runs over six innings, earning his first major-league win since 2019. The next time out, he scattered five hits and three walks over 4.2 innings, but he held the Indians scoreless in another Braves win. And in his last start, as I said earlier in the piece, he earned his second victory of the season against the Brewers, allowing four earned runs over six innings.

It’s been far from pretty. Opponents are hitting .263 against him with an .812 OPS over his last four appearances, but there have been tangible improvements, and the Braves have won each of his last three starts. With an 11.5-game cushion in the division, one would think the best course of action would be to let him get as many reps as possible at the major-league level in hopes he could continue to progress positively. Instead, it looks as if they are opting to ride with Yonny Chirinos in his place for now.

This is where the Braves thought process loses me. Chrinos had a respectable 4.02 ERA for the Rays this season prior to being DFA’d, but let’s not act like he has any business being on the Braves roster. He is a potato on the mound with very little upside, which is portrayed perfectly by his Baseball Savant page. 

  • 7th percentile Average Exit Velocity
  • 1st percentile K%
  • 4th percentile xBA
  • 4th percentile xSLG
  • 3rd percentile xERA
  • 2nd percentile Whiff%
  • 7th percentile HardHit%

By every advanced metric, Chirinos doesn’t belong on a major-league roster, especially one competing for championships. At most, he’s a garbage time innings eater with some major-league experience. There’s some value in that for a team battling injuries, but giving him opportunities over someone with upside like Soroka doesn’t seem to make much sense.

Perhaps more moves are in the cards and future roster manipulation allows Soroka to return to Atlanta and start on schedule. It also could have something to do with the Braves limiting his innings. Both of those would make a lot more sense than favoring Chirinos, who brings little to the table now and in the future. I’ll be interested to see how the Braves handle Michael Soroka moving forward, because yo-yoing him between AAA and the majors is something they explicitly said they did not want to do a couple of months ago.

Photo: Zac BonDurant/Icon Sportswire

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