Mike Soroka will be the Atlanta Braves’ Opening Day starter in 2020.
According to MLB.com’s Mark Bowman, Soroka will be the Braves’ Opening Day starter. He made a joke in his tweet about how it was not Julio Teheran, who had started every Opening Day for the Braves since 2014. Teheran obviously doesn’t play for the Braves anymore, as he’s now a member of Joe Maddon’s Los Angeles Angels. Maybe he’ll thrive with a change of scenery?
Bowman quote tweeted himself with another interesting nugget regarding Soroka’s ascension to the top of the Braves’ starting pitching hierarchy. “Soroka will be the youngest Opening Day starter in Braves modern-day history. He’ll be MLB’s youngest Opening Day starter since Jose Fernandez in 2014.”
Is Mike Soroka ready to take over as the Atlanta Braves’ unquestioned ace?
For the better part of the 2010s, the Braves never really had an ace. Yes, there were seasons when Tim Hudson was dominant, as well as stretches were Teheran was an incredibly strong starting pitcher. However, if the Braves were matched up with another dominant NL team in the postseason, more often than not were they at a No. 1 starting pitcher disadvantage.
The great news for Braves Country is Soroka looks to be a legit ace entering his second “full” big league season. As a rookie in 2019, Soroka made the NL All-Star team and finished as runner-up for NL Rookie of the Year to New York Mets first baseman Pete Alonso. Sorokoa went 13-4 with a 2.68 ERA and 142 strikeouts in 29 games, finishing sixth in the NL Cy Young race.
Not only does Soroka seem to have the control and the stuff to be Atlanta’s new No. 1, but he’s got a very strong No. 2 behind him in the southpaw Max Fried. Rounding out No. 3 to No. 5 in the rotation, we’re looking at some combination of Mike Foltynewicz, Cole Hamels and Sean Newcomb. Foltynewicz has been an All-Star, Newcomb has promise and Hamels is a champion.
This was a no-brainer decision for skipper Brian Snitker to make, as Soroka is the best starting pitcher on his roster. What’s even better is starting pitching is seen as the Braves’ weakness in terms of roster construction if they have one. They play great defense, have a formidable batting order, have the depth to mix-and-match with lineups and rebuilt their bullpen on the fly last year.
Soroka’s rise to Atlanta’s ace could mean he’s in the ilk of a young Tom Glavine or John Smoltz.