MLB Canadian Roundup: Soroka establishes himself as frontline starter

Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Mike Soroka throws a pitch during the first inning in Game 3 of a National League Division Series baseball game against the St. Louis Cardinals. (Charlie Riedel/AP)

Now that the regular season is a distant memory and the Nationals have been crowned World Series champions, it’s time for the eighth instalment of our monthly series on Canadians across Major League Baseball. Here’s one final look at how Canada’s top players did in 2019…

Mike Soroka, Calgary
It’ll be tough to catch Jacob deGrom in the NL Cy Young race and it’s tough to argue with Pete Alonso as Rookie of the Year, but how about this inaugural season from the 22-year-old Soroka?

His ERA was third in the NL and his 1.11 WHIP tied for 10th. Add in his first-ever all-star game appearance and an impressive Game 3 NLDS start against St. Louis, and it doesn’t get much better than this.

2019 Regular Season Stats: 13-4 | 2.68 ERA | 174.2 IP | 142 SO | 1.11 WHIP
Playoff Stats: 1-0 | 3.46 ERA | 13.0 IP | 20 SO | 1.54 WHIP

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James Paxton, Ladner, B.C.
Paxton’s first season in the Bronx will be remembered for a strong second half which helped propel the Yankees to an American League East title. He also out-pitched Astros ace Justin Verlander in Game 5 of the ALCS to keep his team alive before New York was eliminated in dramatic fashion.

2019 Regular Season Stats: 15-6 | 3.82 ERA | 150.2 IP | 186 SO | 1.28 WHIP
Playoff Stats: 0-0 | 1.29 ERA | 7.0 IP | 7 SO | 0.29 WHIP

Abraham Toro, Longueuil, Que.
Toro made the most of his opportunity after Carlos Correa went down with back discomfort in August. Although he didn’t make Houston’s post-season roster, the 22-year-old Toro should earn consideration for a bench role with the 2020 Astros.

2019 Stats: .218 AVG | .303 OBP | .385 SLG | 2 HR | 9 RBI

Joey Votto, Toronto
Votto’s numbers took a significant dip for a second-straight season and signs of aging appear to be showing.

In 2017, Votto hit .320 with 36 home runs and 100 RBI. This season? A .261 average, 15 home runs and 47 RBI. This was all while remaining relatively healthy and only landing on the injured list once.

2019 Regular Season Stats: .261 AVG | .357 OBP | .411 SLG | 15 HR | 47 RBI

Russell Martin, Montreal
When the Blue Jays traded Martin to the Dodgers in January, all signs pointed to him playing a backup role behind the plate.

Turns out one of Martin’s greatest assets this year was his relief pitching, but he also did his part as a catcher. That was shown during the post-season when he started Game 3 and homered for the Dodgers, who eventually fell in the NLDS to Washington.

2019 Regular Season Stats: .220 AVG | .337 OBP | .330 SLG | 6 HR | 20 RBI
Playoff Stats: .500 AVG | .600 OBP | 1.500 SLG | 1 HR | 4 RBI

Josh Naylor, Mississauga, Ont.
After making his MLB debut in his backyard, Naylor had an up and down rookie season with the Padres. A rough July resulted in a brief demotion to triple-A, but he rebounded nicely in August. Once the Padres’ schedule ended, San Diego sent him to Leones del Escogido of the Dominican Winter League for some more seasoning.

2019 Regular Season Stats: .249 AVG | .315 OBP | .403 SLG | 8 HR | 32 RBI

Nick Pivetta, Victoria
Pivetta’s regression this season was concerning and makes you wonder whether his future is in the bullpen. He began the year as a starter, but some shaky starts resulted in a demotion to triple-A. He finished the year in low-stress relief situations.

2019 Regular Season Stats: 4-6 | 5.38 ERA | 93.2 IP | 89 SO | 1.52 WHIP | 1 SV

Tyler O’Neill, Burnaby, B.C.
A pair of stints on the injured list limited the 24-year-old to 60 games for a second-straight year, but O’Neill had some good stretches this season, including an extended tear right after the all-star break. He didn’t make St. Louis’s playoff roster.

2019 Regular Season Stats: .262 AVG | .311 OBP | .411 SLG | 5 HR | 16 RBI

Ben Nicholson-Smith is Sportsnet’s baseball editor. Arden Zwelling is a senior writer. Together, they bring you the most in-depth Blue Jays podcast in the league, covering off all the latest news with opinion and analysis, as well as interviews with other insiders and team members.

Rowan Wick, North Vancouver, B.C.
Wick was one of the few bright spots for the Cubs during a September when they faltered in the NL wild-card race. In nine appearances, he allowed just one run on five hits for a 0.90 ERA with nine strikeouts.

2019 Regular Season Stats: 2-0 | 2.43 ERA | 33.1 IP | 35 SO | 1.14 WHIP | 2 SV

Cal Quantrill, Port Hope, Ont.
Quantrill was having a decent rookie season until a run of four-straight starts from late August to mid-September ballooned his ERA. His final start of the year on Sept. 21 was a positive one and the team shut him down after that due to innings accumulated between triple-A and MLB.

2019 Regular Season Stats: 6-8 | 5.16 ERA | 103.0 IP | 89 SO | 1.30 WHIP

Jordan Romano, Markham, Ont.
After an impressive debut, the right-handed reliever got roughed up a little to end the season, giving up nine earned runs on 14 hits in 7.1 innings during September. An injury in the minors limited his MLB availability.

2019 Regular Season Stats: 0-2 | 7.63 ERA | 15.1 IP | 21 SO | 1.70 WHIP

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