Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon
news

MLB News

Inbox: Will Soroka stay in Braves' rotation?

Beat reporter Mark Bowman answers questions from Atlanta fans
@mlbbowman
April 22, 2019

Do you think Mike Soroka stays in the rotation after Mike Foltynewicz comes back? -- Mike W. It likely depends on what Mike Soroka and Sean Newcomb do during this week’s series against the Reds. Soroka will start Wednesday’s game and Newcomb will be eligible to be recalled from Triple-A

Do you think Mike Soroka stays in the rotation after Mike Foltynewicz comes back?
-- Mike W.

It likely depends on what Mike Soroka and Sean Newcomb do during this week’s series against the Reds. Soroka will start Wednesday’s game and Newcomb will be eligible to be recalled from Triple-A Gwinnett if the Braves choose to use him in Thursday’s series finale in Cincinnati.

Though Mike Foltynewicz allowed seven hits and six runs over 5 1/3 innings while making his latest rehab start for Gwinnett, he could be activated to make a start during next weekend’s home series against the Rockies.

If the Braves were to send Julio Teheran and Max Fried to the mound with an extra day of rest in the first two games of the three-game set and use Foltynewicz in the series finale, Kevin Gausman would also gain an extra day of rest before starting next Monday’s series opener against the Padres.

Who starts the second game of that Padres series will likely be influenced by how Soroka and Newcomb fare this week in Cincinnati. The expectation is one will stay up and the other will be sent back to Gwinnett.

Do you feel having Craig Kimbrel in the bullpen would relieve some stress knowing that he’s there to close out the ballgame and provide much-needed experience?
-- Alex B., Honea Path, S.C.

There is certainly validity to the age-old thought that if you add a closer of Craig Kimbrel’s caliber, the other relievers could benefit by being placed in different roles. But looking at what the Braves have, there’s certainly no guarantee A.J. Minter, Chad Sobotka and Jesse Biddle would suddenly become consistently dependable in the seventh and eighth innings.

With that being said, the most encouraging result of Saturday night’s comeback win was the work provided by Sobotka and Minter. If they continue to trend in the right direction and Luke Jackson extends his success, then there would be reason to project a $12-15 million salary for Kimbrel might actually be valuable.

Are Fried or Soroka on any type of pitch limit this year?
-- @braves_fan89

As you likely know, Fried threw a career-high 118 2/3 innings in 2013. Soroka topped out at 153 2/3 innings in '17 and battled the right shoulder issue that limited him to 56 2/3 innings last year. The Braves might be smart with the workloads handed to both of these pitchers, but they will not set an innings limit for either of them.

Braves general manager Alex Anthopoulos said he ditched the innings-limit concept a couple years ago after too frequently seeing teams take a cautious approach with a pitcher who subsequently broke down a year or two later.

More important to Anthopoulos is closely monitoring a pitcher’s workload on a start-to-start basis. The Braves will continue to attempt to create an extra day of rest as often as possible for each of their starters. Another variable they’ll evaluate is pitches per inning, because not all 160 or 170-inning seasons are created equal.

To better explain this, let’s look at the Rangers’ Mike Minor, who has posted a 2.60 ERA while averaging 13.5 pitches within his first 27 2/3 innings. White Sox lefty Carlos Rodón has a 2.89 ERA while averaging 18.6 pitches through 28 innings. If this trend continues when these pitches reach the 160-inning mark, Rodon will have totaled 800 more pitches. So this is why it doesn’t make sense to simply set an innings limit.

Is there a possibility that Adam Duvall could be used in a deal to acquire a bullpen arm, or does he not have any trade value at this point despite his strong start in Triple-A?
-- @MyOthaTwitta

Yeah, I think this is one of the primary reasons to keep an eye on Adam Duvall, who has slashed .290/.375/.500 through his first 72 plate appearances for Gwinnett. One team that comes to mind is the Giants, who have some good relievers available and need to strengthen their outfield.

At this point, the return for Duvall would likely still be insignificant even if the Braves were going to be responsible for his $2.85 million salary. But his presence combined with the addition of Matt Joyce and the potential second-half rise of Cristian Pache, gives the Braves the depth necessary to think about using him or Ender Inciarte to improve the bullpen at some point this season.

Has anyone asked about Kimbrel yet, or am I the first?
-- @FriedBaseballATL

Yeah. But to answer your question, J.T. Realmuto is 0-for-5 with two strikeouts during his career against Kimbrel.

Catch you next time.

Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001.