The Atlanta Braves may have won their first two games of the season on Wednesday, sweeping a doubleheader against the Washington Nationals, but they received some bad news afterward as it pertains to ace right-hander Mike Soroka's status.
Soroka, in the process of working his way back from the torn Achilles tendon injury he suffered last August, has been shut down for two weeks after experiencing shoulder discomfort during a simulated game, according to Gabe Burns of the Atlanta Journal Constitution. Soroka is said to not have experienced any structural damage to his shoulder and is just dealing with inflammation. He had been expected to rejoin the Braves rotation over the coming weeks. Instead, his return will be delayed until May, at earliest.
Soroka, who will turn 24 in August, has solidified himself as a high-grade big-league starter since debuting in 2018. In 37 career appearances, all starts, he's compiled a 2.86 ERA (163 ERA+) and a 3.11 strikeout-to-walk ratio. His 50.9 groundball percentage during that time, meanwhile, is the 10th highest among the 130 pitchers with 200-plus innings, according to the data provided by FanGraphs.
The Braves had not had to deploy a fifth starter this season until Wednesday's doubleheader. Huascar Ynoa got the nod in that contest, working five scoreless innings and holding the Nationals to two hits and a walk. Ynoa also punched out five batters. Presumably, Ynoa will slot in as Atlanta's fifth starter during Soroka's absence, though the Braves could theoretically turn instead to Kyle Wright, Bryse Wilson, or a number of different young arms if they were to so choose.
The Braves have Thursday off before beginning a stretch that will see them play on 10 consecutive days. During that run, the Braves will play three at home against the Philadelphia Phillies, four against the Miami Marlins, and then three on the road against the Chicago Cubs as part of a five-game road trip.