Allard steadies Atlanta's rotation with stellar spot start

June 28th, 2023

ATLANTA -- Things are going so well for the Braves, they claimed a 3-0 win over the Twins on Wednesday afternoon at Truist Park with the help of a former top prospect who was brought to the Majors to make essentially his third rehab start.

“I guess I was a little bit surprised,” Braves starter said. “It was a little late notice. But I wouldn’t say I was overly, overly shocked.”  


Allard flew with his Triple-A Gwinnett teammates to Minneapolis on Tuesday and learned he would be starting a little more than 12 hours later at Truist Park. So, he flew back to Atlanta, landed around midnight and then spent Wednesday afternoon limiting the Twins to three hits and notching eight strikeouts over 4 2/3 scoreless innings.  

“This is a very good ballclub and you know, they're rolling,” Allard said. “I'm just trying to do anything I can to keep the ball moving in the right direction and help this ballclub win as many games as possible.”

Allard’s effort helped the Braves sweep the three-game series, extend their winning streak to five games and improve to 20-4 in June. With a win against the Marlins on Friday, Atlanta can match the franchise record for most wins in a month, last reached in June 2022.  

Everything the Braves have done lately has seemed to work, including activating Allard from the 60-day injured list despite the fact he had made just two Minor League rehab starts since tearing his right oblique muscle during Spring Training. He totaled 6 2/3 innings in those two outings.

Instead of sticking with the plan to start Michael Soroka on Wednesday, the Braves realized it might be better to go with a lefty against the Twins, who have struggled against southpaws. So, they gambled on the chance to allow Allard to make another “rehab start” at the big league level.  

“We’re not bashful about pulling the strings on somebody and giving them an opportunity,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “It’s good. Those guys in the Minor Leagues feel like they’re all in play. You’re going to get an opportunity. When you do good, you’re going to get noticed.”

Asked if Soroka will come up from Triple-A to start Friday’s game against the Marlins, Snitker said the announcement will be made Friday morning. But the expectation is the right-hander will be on the mound to make his first home start since first tearing his right Achilles tendon on Aug. 3, 2020.

The Braves own the National League’s best record despite going through a majority of this season without Max Fried, who finished second in balloting for the 2022 Cy Young Award, and Kyle Wright, who was MLB’s only 20-game winner last year. A powerful offense has helped compensate for those absences. But Atlanta’s front office and coaching staff have also done a good job of stabilizing the rotation.

After seeing Allard on Wednesday, the Braves optioned Jared Shuster to Triple-A Gwinnett. Soroka will likely take the vacated roster spot, and Allard could make his next start on Tuesday in Cleveland.

By slotting Soroka for Friday, the Braves have also ensured Charlie Morton and Spencer Strider will be on extra rest when they make their respective starts against the Marlins and Rays over the next two weekends.

Soroka has posted a 1.42 ERA and limited opponents to a .109 batting average over three starts since being demoted to Triple-A Gwinnett earlier this month. The two starts he made in late May and early June created reason to think he still had room to improve after spending most of the past three years recovering from two torn Achilles.

But as AJ Smith-Shawver and Shuster have shown their youth during recent starts, Soroka has again looked like a good long-term rotation option. He’ll now try to follow the lead of his good friend Allard. The two were taken by the Braves within the first 28 picks of the 2015 Draft and separated when Allard was traded to the Rangers during the 2019 season.  

“It’s definitely cool being back playing with a lot of my friends I came up with,” Allard said.