The Braves announced that they have recalled right-hander Michael Soroka to start tonight’s game. This will be his first start in front of Atlanta fans since 2019, with the 2020 season being played in empty stadiums because of the pandemic. He then missed 2021 and 2022 entirely before making two road starts this year.
His roster spot was already opened by the club optioning left-hander Jared Shuster to Triple-A yesterday. Additionally, they selected infielder Charlie Culberson to the roster, optioning catcher Chadwick Tromp to Triple-A in a corresponding move. To open a 40-man roster spot for Culberson, left-hander Dylan Lee was transferred to the 60-day injured list.
It’s been a strange season for Culberson, who signed a minor league deal with Atlanta in March. He was selected to the big league roster in mid-May and spent a month on the bench without getting into a single game. He was then designated for assignment, became a free agent and re-signed with the club on another minor league deal. He’s now back on the roster less than two weeks after being designated for assignment.
It seems he’s mostly around in a “break glass in case of emergency” type of role. He’s played every infield position and the outfield corners in his career, as well as a few mop-up pitching appearances. That means he could be called upon when some other player suffers an injury or needs time off. That didn’t happen in the month that he was on the roster but could theoretically happen at any point going forward. Given his versatility, he’s a good fit for such a role. He’s hit .247/.292/.385 in his career but slashed just .204/.234/.255 in Triple-A this year before getting called up.
As for Lee, he’s been on the injured list since mid-May due to shoulder inflammation. He’ll now be ineligible to return until 60 days from that initial IL placement, which would be mid-July. He’s recently been throwing bullpen sessions but has yet to embark on a rehab assignment. Since he’s probably a few weeks away from a return anyway, this transaction seems to be a mere formality that doesn’t indicate any sort of setback.
Soroka made two starts for the big league club earlier this year but allowed nine earned runs in 9 2/3 innings. He’s been much better in the minors, with a 3.31 ERA in 11 Triple-A starts this year. He’s probably not a long-term solution in the rotation since he hardly pitched at all in the 2020-2022 period due to injuries and has already tallied 64 innings this year. The club has an off-day next week and the All-Star break is the week after that.
Spencer Strider, Charlie Morton and Bryce Elder have three rotation spots spoken for but the club has rotated various pitchers through the other two with Max Fried and Kyle Wright on the injured list. Soroka, Shuster, Kolby Allard, AJ Smith-Shawver and Dylan Dodd have all received starts this year and each has options. That will allow the club to continually weave them on and off the big league club as they see fit until they get their injured guys back or perhaps make a move at the upcoming deadline.