The Braves have placed rookie starting pitcher Mike Soroka on the 10-day disabled list with a strained right shoulder, per a club announcement Thursday:
The #Braves have placed RHP Mike Soroka on the 10-day DL (retroactive to May 14) due to a right shoulder strain. LHP Max Fried has been recalled from Triple-A Gwinnett and will start tonight’s game against the Cubs.— Atlanta Braves (@Braves) May 17, 2018
Soroka, 20, was off to a great start over his first few weeks in the big leagues, posting a 3.68 ERA with 15 strikeouts and four walks over 14.2 innings. Ranked as the Braves’ No. 3 prospect and the No. 28 prospect in baseball overall by MLB Pipeline, Soroka will almost certainly need to make continued positive contributions to the division-leading Braves’ rotation if they’re going to shock the world and hang on to win the NL West this season. While shoulder injuries are always scary for pitchers, the ailment isn’t believed to be overly serious and the rookie isn’t expected to miss much time, though MLB.com’s Mark Bowman reported Thursday that Soroka is likely to make at least one minor-league rehab appearance before returning to Atlanta’s rotation, meaning that he’d miss at least two turns through the rotation.
With Soroka out Thursday, No. 7 Braves prospect (and No. 81 in baseball) Max Fried will be recalled to start in his place. Fried, who was selected fourth overall pick by the Padres in the 2012 draft and was acquired by the Braves in the Justin Upton trade, will be making his first start of the season and fifth of his MLB career. The 24-year-old, who was slow to develop due to injuries in the minors, was solid over his first 26 big-league innings in 2017, posting a 3.81 ERA (along with a more worrisome 1.62 WHIP). He’s struggled as a long reliever this season, though, throwing for a 6.00 ERA and 1.33 WHIP over six major-league innings. It’ll be interesting to see if he can be more effective when cast into the more structured routine of a starter.
With Soroka likely to miss multiple starts, it’s very possible that the Braves could call on a different starter to fill his slot in the rotation the next time through. Fried was basically the only option to start Thursday since he was already on schedule at Triple-A, but moving forward Atlanta could consider Lucas Sims, who has struggled in two big-league relief appearances this season but has a spectacular 1.50 ERA and 1.38 WHIP over five Triple-A starts, or Matt Wisler, who posted a 3.75 ERA and 1.17 WHIP over two major-league starts earlier this year and has been equally solid at Gwinnett. Veteran Anbial Sanchez, who was dominant over three appearances earlier this season before going down with a hamstring strain, is also expected to return soon and could be a candidate to fill Soroka’s role next time through the rotation.