Braves ace Mike Soroka out for year with torn Achilles

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Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Mike Soroka (40) waits for assistance from the training staff after being injured in the third inning of a baseball game against the New York Mets Monday, Aug. 3, 2020, in Atlanta. Soroaka was helped to the dugout and replaced. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

ATLANTA – The two-time defending NL East champion Atlanta Braves took a huge blow when young pitching star Mike Soroka was lost for the season Monday night after tearing his right Achilles tendon against the New York Mets.

Soroka was hurt in the third inning after delivering a pitch to J.D. Davis, who grounded the ball toward first baseman Freddie Freeman.

After completing his follow-through, Soroka broke toward first to cover the bag — only to go down on his first step off the mound. The right-hander let out a scream and appeared to know right away it was a devastating injury, one that ensures he won't be back on the mound until 2021.

“There's no sugarcoating it,” Freeman said. “It's just a terrible injury for somebody so young, so bright, so determined to be great at this game.”

Soroka tried to walk gingerly for a couple of steps before dropping to his knees. He couldn’t put any weight on the leg as he was helped toward the clubhouse with the assistance of a trainer and manager Brian Snitker.

“It's a freak thing that happened,” Snitker said, delivering the grim news after the Braves lost 7-2 to the Mets. "I'm sorry it did.”

Atlanta is now faced with the daunting task of replacing one of baseball's brightest young stars, a pitcher who turns 23 on Tuesday but already displayed enormous poise and command of his pitches during his first full season in the big leagues.

A native of Canada, Soroka went 13-4 with a dazzling 2.68 ERA in 2019, earning a spot in the All-Star Game. He finished second in NL Rookie of the Year balloting and sixth for the Cy Young Award, leading the Braves to give him the opening day nod when the pandemic-affected season finally began less than two weeks ago.