NEW YORK -- Mike Soroka strengthened his case to make the National League All-Star team Friday night at Citi Field, the site of his Major League debut in 2018. Soroka allowed two runs over 6 1/3 innings of work in the Braves’ 6-2 win over the Mets, showing no ill effects from being hit by a pitch and leaving early in his previous start.
“It’s pretty crazy. I wouldn’t have expected this for myself, I wouldn’t have demanded this from myself,” Soroka (9-1) said of his name being thrown around in All-Star consideration conversations.
Asked if he thinks Soroka should be hearing his name called on Sunday, when All-Star reserves and pitchers will be announced, manager Brian Snitker said, “Absolutely,” and added in Max Fried's name, too.
“That’s an awesome feeling,” Soroka said when told of his manager’s endorsement. “Obviously to come up last year and kind of just show them what you’ve got, and then again this year, not even be able to do it in Spring Training, but just come up right away and show them that I’m out there attacking. Being out there, now you get those later innings because he’s got the confidence, and that means the world to me. And for him to come out and say that, it means just that much more.”
It’s fitting that Soroka made this start -- which perhaps cemented his case to head to Cleveland -- at Citi Field, where on May 1, 2018, he was just a 20-year-old making his big league debut. Now he’s standing at his locker after the game talking about a possible All-Star nod.
“Coming back here after the debut last year, I got to take it in a little more this time, be able to kind of look around when I got to the bullpen and take a deep breath,” he said. “It was all really quick for me last year. But just to be able to come back from an injury that really ended my season last year, and to be able to stay healthy up till now and work towards it, that’s what this means to me. It means a lot just to be here and be able to compete with these guys, because these guys are special and I wouldn’t want to miss that.”
Soroka outdueled reigning NL Cy Young Award winner Jacob deGrom, who allowed three runs over six innings. Soroka’s fellow rookie, Austin Riley, hit a two-run home run off deGrom in the second inning to get the Braves out to an early lead, and Johan Camargo delivered the final blow with a three-run double in the eighth.
Soroka said he felt no pain from being hit by a pitch on his right arm that ended his previous start early.
“It was good to see him bounce back after Sunday and kind of just pick up where he left off, really,” Snitker said. “He was strong, did a great job and just kept throwing strikes.”
Pete Alonso, who hit a solo home run off Soroka for the only extra-base hit the Braves' starter allowed, noted how well he pitched.
"Sometimes, you've just got to tip the cap to the other guys,” Alonso said. “Mike Soroka, he carved. Simple as that.
"His stuff moves everywhere. He's got a couple different looks from his fastball, he's got a four-seam, a two-seam for a strike, and then a two-seam that just kind of runs off the plate. For me, I got lucky and got a changeup that was hanging over the plate. But he located really well tonight and he was really efficient with his pitches, kept his pitch count down the entire game and threw a bunch of strikes. You've just got to tip your cap like I said. He did a hell of a job."
Overall, Soroka has allowed two runs or fewer in 11 of his 14 starts this season. His 2.13 ERA is second in the Majors among qualified pitchers behind only Hyun-Jin Ryu.