Braves' Michael Soroka done for season, won't need surgery

ATLANTA -- Former All-Star Michael Soroka is done for the season, but he did receive a bit of good news in that his latest injury apparently won't require surgery.

The Atlanta Braves placed Soroka on the 15-day injured list Wednesday in another setback for the right-hander whose once-promising career was sidetracked by a pair of major leg injuries.

After Soroka underwent a battery of tests, the team's medical staff determined that forearm inflammation was the cause of numbness in his fingers. No tears were found, leaving rest and rehab as the most likely path to recovery.

"He's done for the year. It's not anything he's going to have time to come back from," manager Brian Snitker said after Wednesday's loss to the St. Louis Cardinals. "He'll be shut down, and then he can kind of concentrate, when he gets ready, on his offseason program."

Soroka returned this season after twice tearing his right Achilles tendon, and Snitker initially feared this was another devastating setback.

The manager sounded more optimistic 24 hours later.

"It's one of those things that just happens," Snitker said. "I think what he did after coming back and getting this far is pretty good. Credit to him and his work ethic and determination and everything that he's done to get this far, into September."

Reliever Collin McHugh joined Soroka on the 15-day IL with right shoulder inflammation.

The Braves recalled right-handers Darius Vines and Ben Heller from Triple-A Gwinnett.

Soroka, who has pitched most of the season at Gwinnett, started the series opener against the Cardinals but lasted just three innings. He allowed five runs and four hits, including two homers.

He was an All-Star in 2019, when he went 13-4 with a 2.68 ERA in his first full season with the Braves. He finished second in the NL Rookie of the Year voting and sixth in balloting for the NL Cy Young Award.

Other than one spring training appearance shortly before the start of the 2021 season, he did not pitch at all the previous two years before finally returning to the mound this season. He started out in the minors as the Braves tried to ensure he was fully recovered and had regained the form he showed before the two Achilles injuries.

There were some promising outings at Gwinnett, where Soroka went 4-4 with a 3.41 ERA in 17 starts, but he never resembled the guy who was one of baseball's most dynamic young pitchers.

The MLB-leading Braves brought him up three times to make spot starts in their injury-plagued rotation. Soroka went 2-2 with a 6.40 ERA in 32⅓ innings, surrendering 36 hits, 12 walks and nine homers over six starts and one relief appearance.

Now, his future in the big leagues is at another crossroads, although Snitker praised Soroka for getting this far.

"After everything he's been through, holy cow, there ain't nothing going to stunt that guy," Snitker said. "He's had everything thrown at him you can probably have these last few years and handled it all. He's a strong individual."

McHugh, 36, has been a workhorse in the Braves' bullpen, logging 58⅔ innings in 41 appearances. Only Michael Tonkin (68⅔ innings) has put in more time among Atlanta relievers.

But McHugh struggled, with a 4.30 ERA and allowing 70 hits with 22 walks, and there was plenty of speculation that he might be dropped from the Braves' postseason roster -- especially if injured relievers Jesse Chavez or Nick Anderson were able to return.

McHugh gave up four runs in three innings after taking over for Soroka in Tuesday's loss.