ATLANTA -- Mike Soroka baffled the New York Mets for six innings on May 1 in his major league debut at Citi Field, allowing six hits and a run while walking none and striking out five in a 3-2 victory by the Atlanta Braves.
The rookie right-hander didn't fare as well in his next two starts, though, and he faces the Mets at SunTrust Field on Wednesday after having missed nearly four weeks because of a shoulder strain.
The Braves (38-28) are looking for a sweep of the two-game series after winning 8-2 on Tuesday night to take over sole possession of first place in the National League East and send the skidding Mets (28-35) to their 14th loss in the past 17 games.
"When you're scoring runs at the anemic rate that we have, something hasn't worked," Mets general manager Sandy Alderson said before the game. "From that standpoint, I take total responsibility for where we are. I'm not happy about it. But at the same time, the job now is to figure out how to fix it and improve it. We are focused on getting the team back to where it was many weeks ago."
The Braves had planned to give Soroka three minor league rehab starts, but they will activate the 20-year-old Canadian from the disabled list after just two starts to face the Mets following a 73-pitch outing for Triple-A Gwinnett last week.
"He came out of everything really well and the reports were really good," Braves manager Brian Snitker said. "So, we just decided to let him have [the start]."
Soroka (1-1, 3.68 ERA) was matched against hard-throwing Noah Syndergaard in his debut and this time his mound opponent will be Mets ace Jacob deGrom.
DeGrom (4-1, 1.57 ERA) will be making his fourth start against the Braves this season and has yet to have a decision despite a 0.50 ERA.
DeGrom, the victim of lack of run support and bullpen failures, took his first loss Friday while turning in another quality start, allowing four hits and two earned runs over eight innings against the New York Yankees while striking out eight.
The right-hander struck out 13 over seven innings against the Chicago Cubs while getting a no-decision in his start prior to that and lost a chance for a win in Atlanta on May 28 when the Braves' Charlie Culberson hit a two-run walk-off homer in the ninth inning against reliever Seth Lugo.
"I think it's frustrating no matter what, whether I'm pitching or not," deGrom said. "We don't want to lose and when we do lose games, it's frustrating for everybody. Obviously, that's not what we're trying to do."
DeGrom's ERA is the best in the National League by nearly a half run and he is second with 106 strikeouts in 80 1/3 innings. Yet he has just four victories in 13 starts and has received a no-decision eight times.
Before the loss to the Yankees, deGrom had allowed one run or less in eight consecutive starts and he has done it nine times this season.
DeGrom is 5-3 with a 1.84 ERA in 14 career starts against the Braves, striking out 98 in 88 innings.
The 27-year-old former Stetson University shortstop has allowed just 11 hits and a run over 18 innings in his three no-decisions against Atlanta this season and has 25 strikeouts to five walks.
Soroka, a first-round draft pick in 2015, made it through just four innings in a loss to San Francisco after his impressive debut against the Mets, then began feeling shoulder discomfort while pitching 4 2/3 innings at Miami in his third start.
Soroka totaled just eight innings in his two minor league rehab appearances, but struck out seven over 4 1/3 innings for Gwinnett against Syracuse last week and the Braves decided he was ready to fill an open rotation spot against the Mets.
"He can go 85, 90 [pitches], which is all he would probably be doing anyway," Snitker said.