Why haven’t the Braves called up Michael Soroka yet? Here’s the reasoning

Gwinnett Stripers pitcher Michael Soroka is introduced before their game against the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp for the Stripers season opener at Coolray Field, Friday, March 31, 2023, in Lawrenceville, Ga.. Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com)

Credit: Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com

Credit: Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com

Gwinnett Stripers pitcher Michael Soroka is introduced before their game against the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp for the Stripers season opener at Coolray Field, Friday, March 31, 2023, in Lawrenceville, Ga.. Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com)

ARLINGTON, Texas — There is a question you hear repeated over and over from Braves fans.

Why haven’t the Braves called up Michael Soroka?

Any time the Braves make a decision, the baseball-operations team looks at the situation from every angle. There are multiple sides and layers to anything in this sport. In a well-thought-out decision, there probably are details that never come to light because the team would rather not reveal them.

The answer to the Soroka question actually is on the simpler side of the spectrum.

He has not pitched well enough at Triple-A Gwinnett – yet.

“He’s working his process here every day,” Gwinnett Stripers manager Matt Tuiasosopo told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “The guy’s missed so much time. ... He comes ready to prepare and compete every day. He’s had some good outings, he’s had some mixed outings. But it’s all part of just getting all that rust off and getting them back out there, and just getting in that mode of competing and facing hitters.”

It’s unsurprising that fans would continue to wonder why Soroka isn’t yet in the major-league starting rotation. After all, he became a fan-favorite after bursting onto the scene and becoming one of the top starters in baseball. And now, the Braves are missing both Max Fried and Kyle Wright.

This would seem like the perfect time for Soroka to complete his comeback.

But as of Tuesday, Soroka has a 5.47 ERA over 24-2/3 innings across six starts. He has a 1.58 WHIP. Triple-A opponents are batting .317 versus Soroka.

His stuff has been good. His command has been inconsistent. But that’s probably to be expected after such a lengthy layoff. More reps could fix that.

The Braves don’t want to yo-yo Soroka – bring him up, then send him down. If and when they eventually recall him to the majors, they want him to be a part of their rotation for the long haul. The last thing they would want to do is bring up Soroka, see him get shelled and have to send him back down.

At this point, the Braves feel it’s beneficial for Soroka to stick to his routine at Gwinnett. They’ve remained cautious about not disrupting that. Of course, they already would’ve brought him up if they thought he was ready – the Braves have shown they’re willing to be aggressive with calling up players they think can help them win.

Tuiasosopo said Soroka’s sinker has been in the mid-90s in terms of velocity, and has looked really good. The slider, he said, is a good pitch and could be even better if Soroka executes it more consistently. The righty has also worked on using his changeup as a weapon versus lefties, which is something the coaching staff has tried to communicate to him.

On April 18, Soroka tossed six scoreless innings with five strikeouts. It continued his hot start, as he surrendered only two earned runs over 13-2/3 innings in his first three starts of the season as he stretched out.

He hasn’t been as successful since.

In the start after that scoreless outing, Soroka allowed eight runs – seven earned – on 10 hits over three innings. He has given up three runs over four innings in both of the starts since that blow-up appearance.

“I feel like most outings, it’s always kind of one big inning that kind of gets a little sideways on him, and he competes out of it,” Tuiasosopo said. “And there’s been some times where we’ve given up some bigger innings. He usually settles in kind of after a tough start and puts together a good finish to an outing. So, it’s just a matter of consistently coming out from out the gate and really handling his business from the start.”

Again: This is part of the process for Soroka, who hasn’t pitched in the major leagues since 2020. The Braves still believe he features potential, which they’ve shown by continuing to tender contracts to Soroka.

Soroka is putting in good work at Gwinnett. His stuff has been good. His arm strength is there.

The Braves haven’t set a specific innings limit on Soroka, but they’ve remained mindful of his workload. They’re monitoring his innings because they want him to be able to pitch deep into October if they need it. In April, they pushed back his start because they want to manage his workload.

The Braves, down two starters, have had rotation openings. One time, they called up Dylan Dodd for a spot start versus the Marlins. They’ve twice deployed bullpen games. There have been opportunities for Dodd, Soroka and Jared Shuster, but the Braves still opted for those bullpen games.

This came down to the off-days, which allowed them to execute bullpen days without taxing the relievers. But the Braves also did this to try to buy time for Dodd and Shuster to improve, especially in the area of their strikeout-to-walk ratios. The Braves brought up Shuster for Tuesday’s start versus the Rangers.

Meanwhile, Soroka will continue working at Triple-A – for now. The Braves don’t want to throw him around between Gwinnett and the majors. Take Kyle Wright, for example. In 2021, the Braves recalled Wright for a start against the Mets, who shelled him. The Braves then decided to simply leave Wright at Triple-A, which allowed him to develop because he had the consistency of a routine and a stable situation.

At one point during a conversation, Tuiasosopo was asked this: Is Soroka someone you expect will eventually pitch in the big leagues again?

“No doubt,” Tuiasosopo said. “I think we all believe that, I think he believes that. That’s part of the role that me and my staff get to be in and to kind of help him like, ‘Hey, slow it down. Don’t get so caught up in your result of this start tonight, This is a long season and, at some point, you’re going to be ready, and you’re going to be (showing) that consistency. You’re going to be in the right place at the right time, to hopefully get that call to get back to where you belong in the big leagues.’

“There’s no doubt that we all believe that, and it’s just a matter of (Soroka) keeping the right mindset of, ‘Listen, I’m close. There’s still things that, hey, we need to refine this, I need to be a little bit better and I need to be a little more consistent with this.’ But the belief is still there, the faith is still there. And he believes it. He’s worked his tail off.”

Everything goes back to this: The Braves try to put players in the best position to succeed. They want the best for Soroka, whom they seem to believe can help them at some point.

It’s understandable that fans – who are eager to see Soroka pitch in a Braves uniform again – are anxious for his return.

But at this point, the Braves simply don’t want him to take the mound for them once. When he comes up, they want him to stay up.