It now appears the Braves’ boy wonder Mike Soroka won’t be starting Game 1 of the National League Division Series.
The Braves bumped Soroka’s next start from Wednesday to Sunday, manager Brian Snitker confirmed after Tuesday’s loss in Kansas City. Josh Tomlin will start in his place and go three or four innings.
“We decided late (Tuesday) afternoon that we’d push him to Sunday,” Snitker said. “Just to give him a little blow here. It’s been a long, long year. It’s not going to hurt him to have a few days off. We’ll start him Sunday and then see where it goes from there.”
Soroka will pitch the regular-season finale in New York, meaning he wouldn’t be lined up to start Game 1, which is Oct. 3 (Thursday).
Instead, the earliest Soroka could start on regular rest would be Game 2. More likely, the team is lining him up to start Game 3 — on two days of extra rest — on the road. Soroka, 22, has an MLB-best 1.35 ERA in 15 road starts this season.
Starting Soroka in Game 3, however, means the team would give its all star the ball just once in the NLDS. If he started Game 2, he could theoretically return for a potential Game 5.
Game 3 on the NLDS is scheduled for Sunday, Oct. 6. A Game 5 would be Wednesday, Oct. 9, eliminating any chance of pitching Soroka twice. Whereas if Soroka started Game 2, Friday Oct. 4, he could return for Game 5.
It’s an interesting puzzle for the Braves, who could opt for Dallas Keuchel and Mike Foltynewicz in their first two home postseason games before turning to Soroka. The playoff-tested Keuchel, in all likelihood, would be their starter for Game 5 in such scenario.
The team will use its last four games to evaluate and line up its rotation. The Braves’ postseason opponent isn’t yet set in stone, but it’s down to two options. The Cardinals are increasingly likely to win the National League Central, while the Brewers still have an outside shot.
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