Soroka named Braves' Opening Day starter

'It’s something you dream about as a kid,' 22-year-old righty says

July 14th, 2020

ATLANTA -- is set to become the youngest Opening Day starter in Braves modern-era history.

Braves manager Brian Snitker confirmed this on Tuesday, when he announced Soroka will start the team’s season opener against the Mets on July 24 at Citi Field. This will mark the first time the 22-year-old pitcher has even been on an Opening Day roster.

“Regardless of the situation, it’s an honor and a big deal,” Snitker said. “It’s well deserved.” 

Though this assignment had been expected since Soroka established himself as Atlanta’s top starter as a rookie last year, the hurler was admittedly a little nervous as he watched Snitker walk down a long clubhouse hallway to deliver this news on Monday night.

“When he told me, it was cool,” Soroka said. “It’s something you dream about as a kid. Opening Day to me growing up was always watching the best pitchers available for both teams. It’s one of the only times of the year that you align all your best pitchers at once and you get to pick your best matchups.” 

Soroka is expected to match up against Mets ace Jacob deGrom, who has won the past two National League Cy Young Awards. deGrom finished second in the NL last year with a 2.43 ERA and Soroka finished third with a 2.68 mark.

The Braves have won both of the two previous matchups between these two pitchers, with deGrom allowing four earned runs over 13 innings and Soroka surrendering two earned runs over 12 2/3 innings.  

“[deGrom] has been one of the best pitchers in baseball for a while now and arguably the best over the past couple years,” Soroka said. “He’s special to watch and special to compete against. I’ve gotten to do it a few times.”

Soroka will be 22 years and 354 days old when he takes the mound for the season opener.

Per Baseball Reference, the Braves’ youngest Opening Day starter since at least 1904 is Julio Teheran, who was 23 years and 63 days old when he made the first of his six consecutive Opening Day starts in 2014.

Soroka is also in line to become MLB’s youngest Opening Day starter since the Marlins' José Fernández (21 years and 243 days old) in 2014.

“It’s like your playoff outings, throwing a no-hitter, throwing a perfect game and things like that," Soroka said of his Opening Day assignment. "You get those Opening Day feelings every year when baseball starts.”