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Gohara sent down to Triple-A to make starts

MLB.com @mlbbowman

ATLANTA -- While the Braves were hoping Luiz Gohara would establish himself as a valuable big league reliever, his recent struggles combined with limited activity have led the team to determine it's best to allow him to spend the next couple of weeks starting at the Minor League level.

Gohara was optioned to Triple-A Gwinnett before Sunday afternoon's game against the Padres. The 21-year-old left-hander will make his first start for the Stripers on Thursday night. He had made just three appearances since returning on June 3 from bereavement leave that lasted 10 days.

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ATLANTA -- While the Braves were hoping Luiz Gohara would establish himself as a valuable big league reliever, his recent struggles combined with limited activity have led the team to determine it's best to allow him to spend the next couple of weeks starting at the Minor League level.

Gohara was optioned to Triple-A Gwinnett before Sunday afternoon's game against the Padres. The 21-year-old left-hander will make his first start for the Stripers on Thursday night. He had made just three appearances since returning on June 3 from bereavement leave that lasted 10 days.

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"He's not pitching regularly, and he needs to," Braves manager Brian Snitker said. "There's a balance between that and our need here, too. We need to look at what's best for him and us."

Gifted with a high-octane fastball and an effective slider, Gohara seemed to be a good candidate to be routinely used in medium-to-high leverage situations as a multi-inning relief option. But as he has allowed nine hits and nine earned runs in the three appearances (4 2/3 innings) he's completed since returning, he hasn't created the confidence necessary for Snitker to use him in anything more than a mop-up role.

"I'm not looking at results for him as much as I am stuff," Snitker said. "I don't think his arm is where it was last year just because he hasn't had the workload. It hasn't been anyone's fault. It has just been a weird first half and Spring Training."

Gohara's average four-seam fastball velocity has gone from 96.4 mph last year to 94.1 mph this year per Statcast™. As he posted a 2.45 ERA while totaling 11 innings for Atlanta from May 10-23, that average velo sat at 94.4 mph. But as he has allowed opponents to hit .429 (9-for-21) since returning from the bereavement list, this average velo has dropped to 93.3 mph.

After starting against the Phillies on May 23, Gohara traveled to Brazil to be with his mother as she recovered from heart surgery. When he returned a little more than a week later, he said he had played catch and thrown off a mound a few times while in his native country. But he certainly created doubt when he returned and promptly allowed six earned runs while recording just two outs in his return appearance -- June 4 at San Diego.

The Braves filled Gohara's roster spot with Luke Jackson, who had opted for free agency on Friday after being designated for assignment for the third time this season. Because Jackson then re-signed with the Braves on a Major League deal, there were no restrictions to immediately place him on Atlanta's roster.

Soroka set to start in Canada
Mike Soroka will experience a thrill when he starts Tuesday night's game in Toronto. The 20-year-old Canadian will be pitching in front of many friends and family members, who plan to fly from his hometown of Calgary to watch him make his first career start in his native country.

"It will be like a second debut," said Soroka, who carried a no-hit bid into the seventh inning of Wednesday's start against the Mets.

The Braves also announced Anibal Sanchez will start Wednesday afternoon's series finale against the Blue Jays. Sean Newcomb will likely start Friday's series opener against the Orioles, and Mike Foltynewicz is expected to return from the disabled list to start Saturday. So, it appears Brandon McCarthy will be available to pitch out of the bullpen this week.

Father's Day
To celebrate Father's Day during Sunday afternoon's game, Braves players and coaches wore symbolic blue ribbon on their uniforms along with blue wristbands and a specially designed light blue cap to raise awareness and funds for the fight against prostate cancer.

Sunday marked the final day for fans to participate in the Prostate Cancer Foundation 's Home Run Challenge. This fundraiser allows fans to make a one-time monetary donation or pledge for every home run hit by their team during the first two weeks of June. More information can be found at https://homerunchallenge.org.

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

Atlanta Braves, Luiz Gohara, Mike Soroka