Keep Calm and Trust Mike

Unlike all of the rest of you, I was present at Mike Soroka’s major league debut on May 1st of last year.  This give me the wholly unwarranted feeling that I own him and have generously agreed to lend the ability to view his talents to the rest of you.  Before he’d ever thrown an MLB pitch, I called him “clearly the best Canadian the Braves have ever had,” and said that Canada owes us 1.2 WAR just to get us back to even.  Debt paid.  He’s put up 5.5.  I wrote a updated version of the Sorokan anthem earlier this year.

As it happens, I recapped that game, including a picture of his first major league pitch.  He beat Thor 3-2, and my overwhelming impression of him was how calm he seemed on the mound… in his major league debut, a time when players are supposed to be so amped up that mental mistakes are expected. 

I note that his six innings were then completed by Shane Carle, Dan Winkler, AJ Minter and Arodys Vizcaino.  This was only last year, folks, and only one of them Is on the Braves’ 40 man today.  But I digress.

When he went down with shoulder troubles the next month and didn’t pitch again in 2018, a lot of people got off the Soroka bandwagon.  But I have a picture of his first pitch.  I was invested.  What he showed this year was exactly the great calm he showed in that first outing.  All year long.

He came out of the gate with a fantastic start reminiscent of the incandescent start of Buzz Capra in 1974.  After 10 starts he was 7-1 with a 1.38 ERA.  That was unsustainable of course (especially since our current opponent won’t allow me to mention the one time it was sustained) but 13-4 and a 2.68 is a number 1 starter in today’s game.  The Braves were 19-10 in games he started (well above our overall winning percentage) and a lot of those games were in the Era of Bullpen Agony.  But even from his first game, he has done what he is supposed to do; pitch 100 or so pitches and leave with a lead.  That’s what aces do nowadays.

Even though he’s our best pitcher (and I say this even given Folty’s recent brilliance) he’s starting the 3rd game because of his superior performance on the road.  This is less because he’s bad in STP (as for example, Teheran was last year) but because his calmness plays well on the road.  He’s 7-1 with a 1.55 ERA outside of STP.  In other people’s homes, he is allowing an OPS of .543.  I would call him a rude guest, but he’s Canadian, and they’re never rude.  Just very good at what they do.

So while you would expect the normal level of nervousness for a rookie making his major league postseason debut in an enemy park in a crucial game, if there’s anyone I wouldn’t worry about, it’s Mike Soroka.  Just like his MLB debut, he’s going to be a lot calmer than I am.  Michael John Graydon Soroka: M-m-m-ike’s got The Knack.  Go Get ‘Em.

Author: JonathanF

Alive since 1956. Braves fan since 1966. The first ten years were pretty much wasted. Exiled to Yankees/Mets territory in 1974 --- bearable only with TBS followed by MLB.TV.

245 thoughts on “Keep Calm and Trust Mike”

  1. @2

    ‘deus ex machina’.

    ‘An unexpected power or event saving a seemingly hopeless situation.’

  2. Mike Soroka
    likes to travel, has a somewhat pallid ochre
    the neck elongated, the better to see those tipped fluorescent fingers
    Canadian cool, the aura of mastery lingers.

  3. Jonathan F

    I believe I too witnessed a noteworthy Braves ML debut, Acuna in a 4 game series up here at GABP. That was the first game, on the third day I saw his first home run. Two for one I felt.

    I must qualify this by admitting, on principle, I never look anything up when I am remembering/writing something. To me that’s cheating, rather.

    However there is a price to be paid when you use a memory in its ninth decade as your bible as Ryan discovered yesterday when he nailed me on the NCAA issue. Still, I’d rather have it that way, there are enough people looking things up on this blog to sink a battleship.

    And Jonathan, it seems, albeit inadvertently perhaps, you have solved the the pre-recap waffle issue. Write the recap BEFORE the game, your focus undisturbed, resolute. I, as ever, will applaud your mastery of the written word and, by definition, there will be nothing for you to look up.


  4. Can’t afford a shaky first from Soroka where he gives up 3 runs trying to find he groove. He needs to be on point right off the bat

  5. Thanks, JonathanF. I’ve been enamored of Soroka since the depths of the rebuild when I paid more attention to prospects than I ever had before. He gave interviews as an 18 year old that sounded like a 15 year veteran.

    I was at the first game Julio ever started at Turner Field. So I’ve identified with him and appreciated him more than most on here—but I sure hope he doesn’t start tomorrow.

  6. Nice first inning for Mike, which is BIG. I was a little nervous about this first one, given his sometimes struggles and potential for jitters.

  7. another damn dink and dunk. Dadgummit.

    stupid small ball. Wish the Braves could play at that.

  8. @18 yeah, aside from Goldschmidt s homer, I don’t remember them getting a well struck hit.

  9. I damn sure thought that was going out of the park. Nice smack, Dansby.

    @20, Dansby’s was not!

  10. @26 Don’t mention that name; still makes me shudder.

    Rob said we could curse, but that’s taking it too far.

  11. @33

    What would be the point of deadening the ball for the playoffs? Also, the ball was flying around plenty in Atlanta where it was like 110 billion degrees. The weather seems way more likely of an explanation for today so far.

  12. @43

    If the temperature being 65 degrees causes us to lose, I don’t even know what to say about that. I felt like I did need to point out that it’s not like it’s 40 degrees or anything…not that that would be a suitable excuse, either.

  13. Mike’s spinning a great game. None of our hitters have been better than he so far. Let him hit.

  14. @50

    If we lose this series and I see a think piece on here about how it being 65 freaking degrees caused the Braves all kinds of problems, I swear to God I’m going to completely lose it. Acting like that’s a cold temperature is deeply absurd on every level. The ball isn’t carrying for St. Louis in this, either.

  15. Think they’re pressing. Acuna swing at a pitch way outside that he couldn’t have done any damage with.

  16. @54 The cold does affect the carry on the ball. For a HR hitting team, hard to deny that playing a part.

    Of course the Cards are hitting the same ball, in the same weather. Their run was a cheapy though.

    Just a good day to be a pitcher.

    Luke Jackson might even be semi-useful today…

  17. But I thought the only things that mattered in the playoffs were home runs and strikeouts! Was I misinformed?

  18. This should forever put an end to any question whether the JD Drew trade was a win or loss for Atlanta.

  19. @65

    I don’t necessarily disagree, but just to play devil’s advocate, that trade did win us a division title. It was a division title that we did nothing with, though, and the Smoltz/Alexander trade won the Tigers an ineffectual division title, too.

  20. @54 There is truth to what you’re saying. I think the real point is that the Braves cannot play small ball. Stop hitting pop outs to CF when there’s a guy on 2B. Better to hit a hard GB and move a runner and play a little small ball rather than trying to hit for fences you can’t reach.

    Acuna has looked bad since taking all the bad press after Game 1.

  21. If they don’t get Drew, then the Chris Burke game never happens. That alone makes it a no-brainer for me.

    I seriously need to eternal sunshine some Braves postseasons from my head.

  22. 71 — That was the next year when Francoeur was playing RF. But 2004 was also a painful loss to the Astros.

  23. @72 – Oh you’re right. My god, all the playoffs ptsd has scrambled together in my head.

    Next you’re gonna tell me it wasn’t Eric Gregg that called an infield fly while Kyle Farmsworth battled Richard Hill.

  24. Braves need to discard the idea of hitting the ball in the air. Just square it up and run!

  25. I’m glad I don’t have to listen to Chip Caray today what with all the warning track flies.

  26. You know; it’s kinda crappy that Matt Carpenter has killed us in two different games with sac flies.

  27. If wainwright is pitching a masterpiece, as said by these dumbasses with mics, what adjective would you use for Soroka, who has been better?

  28. @79 This St. Louis pitching staff is pretty good, and Donaldson ain’t alone in his struggles.

    The Braves are golfing right now without him this season. I’m still giving him ALL the money.

  29. @88 That seems… Extreme.

    Let’s not forget the 6 months prior here over the course of 3 games.

  30. Donaldson can play on my team. Were I Midas, I’d not hesitate to give him three years at $25 mil per.

  31. Somebody please put one of these slow-ass Jorge Campillo single-A curve balls and put it into the Mississippi River.

  32. That was the whole series right there. There’s no way they come back from this. It doesn’t matter if (who’s starting tomorrow?) sets the world on fire tomorrow. This lineup will make Hudson look like Verlander.

  33. bases loaded, Andrew Miller, weak fly out to CF…pathetic. Show me you’re worth 20 plus million, you haven’t remotely so far with a one run deficit.

  34. Can we all acknowledge the team approach at the plate this game? No walks until the 8th inning. Lots of early swings and Wainwright junk. My opinion is guys were pressing, but gotta wonder what the team hitting approach was supposed to be going into the game.

  35. Freddie really should have cut his swing down and tried to hit a single against the shift rather than another popup to CF like everyone else.

    If Oxxie’s shot down the line had been fair, Dansby would have scored from first. We are losing again by the smallest of margins.

  36. Oh man. Fried here means Teheran or a short-rested Keuchel tomorrow. Count me in the “no thanks” column.

  37. Max can’t find the zone right now, but he’s not getting much from that jackleg ump either.

  38. “Please join us tomorrow from St. Louis as Jameela Jamil hosts Braves postseason baseball, also titled Misery Index.”

  39. @138 LOL

    Honestly , I think I prefer being eliminated now than losing to the gnats or getting crushed by the dodgers.

  40. O’Day…sign him….

    we may lose tonight but that says nothing about tomorrow…we are so much better than they are.

    carl…say goodbye to your friends…salut

  41. I am getting so pissed that they won’t let O’Day have more than one batter. It’s stupid.

    Another dinky hit by a Cards batter. This is getting old fast.

  42. @141 I’d rather be bounced by LA than St. Louis; but I do agree, losing to St. Louis would be easier to swallow than the Nats.

    I want to win a playoff series though! Lol

  43. So we have a pinch hitter due up 3rd instead of Joyce. I know he is slumping, but there isn’t anyone on the bench who is better. That move made no sense.

    I bet Rafael Ortega hits there.

  44. @147 What do you mean, aren’t you satisfied with the last one the won nearly 20 years ago? We’re so much better than the Seattle Mariners…..

    Whew, devil magic almost caught the rain man liner.

  45. Unacceptable there from Markakis. Good luck elsewhere next year, my man.

    Of all the times not to bunt.

  46. Double switching out Joyce when he was due up is one of the dumbest moves of the Snitker era.

  47. All this talk about the Braves hitting curveballs but they have smoked Martinez and Hicks before him with their triple digit fastballs.

  48. Pretty sure that pitch to Ronald was on purpose , but he did the right thing and just went to first while not making much eye contact.

  49. To repeat: Had it all the way. I really don’t know what you people are worried about. The long series of Braves triumphs in the postseason should have everyone OVERconfident, frankly.

  50. Would’ve been here to comment on the Dansby hit, but I was sitting in my recliner without my cell phone and I was not going to move.

    Woo. Don’t ever give up on the Bravos.

  51. Donaldson is hereby removed from the ‘under review’ list…classy double smash

    WOO HOO!!

  52. Gonna take some deep breaths and relax for a while. Godspeed tomorrow, no matter who starts for us.

  53. This thread is going to be one of the all-time great re-reads BTW, especially if we go on to win this series.

  54. !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Martinez with the blown save, Molina with the final out. Bahahaha!!!!! Wow!!!!

    And…. SWANSBY!!!!

  55. Unrelated note: Are the Nationals really starting Anibal Sanchez in this game? Like, really???

  56. Braves starters have given up 2 runs in 18.2 innings. Less the 1.00 ERA.

    Also, as I mentioned before, the Braves have done this so many times this year – lose the 1st game of a series and then go on to win the series.

  57. @230 maybe one inning of Max wasn’t worth it? I guess they figured he would get one start regardless?

  58. I want the Nats to win…. I don’t care what anyone says, the Nats will be easier to beat than the Dodgers.

  59. I’d start Keuchel tomorrow, for the record. Folty showed more than well enough to be comfortable with him in Game 5, if need be. Also, insert cliche here about sinkerball pitchers throwing better on short rest or something.

  60. It should also be noted that Folty would be on full rest for Game 5, as he would get the benefit of both off-days.

  61. I want the Nats to win but only because if we advance also, I could attend game 2 of the NLCS. I’ll be driving through Atlanta on Saturday anyway, might as well get a playoff game in!

  62. Dang – how ’bout them Braves! The guts on display in the 9th was something else.

    We danced (just a smidge) in the streets today in my neighborhood. I’ll admit it.

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