Max Fried to Miss Rest of Season, but Could Still Start NLDS Games
WASHINGTON — The Atlanta Braves will be without pitcher Max Fried for the remainder of the season due to a blister issue. However, this does not necessarily rule him out as the team’s starting pitcher for either Game 1 or Game 2 of the National League Division Series (NLDS).
Fried was placed on the 15-day injured list on Friday morning, with right-hander Darius Vines being recalled from Triple-A Gwinnett to fill the roster spot. Despite the blister problem, Fried provided a solid performance in the team’s 10-3 victory over the Washington Nationals on Thursday night, pitching six innings before the issue resurfaced.
The 15-day span will end on October 6, just one day before the Braves are scheduled to begin the NLDS. This means that Fried could potentially be available to start either Game 1 on October 7 or Game 2 on October 9.
Braves manager Brian Snitker expressed hope that Fried would be able to return in time for the NLDS. “He’ll be able to come off [the IL] right before the Division Series, so hopefully he makes his start in that series,” Snitker said. “He can continue to throw. We can keep him active by just covering that thing up. It was bad enough that he wasn’t gonna make his next start.”
Fried has dealt with blister issues in the past, both during his time in the minor leagues and after making his MLB debut in 2017. Although there had been no reported problems in recent years, Fried disclosed earlier this week that he had found better ways to manage the blisters during that time.
According to Snitker, this latest blister is located on the pad of Fried’s index finger, whereas previous blisters had been closer to the fingernail. Fried remains optimistic about his availability for the playoffs, emphasizing the importance of being able to contribute to the team’s postseason run. “It’s more of a case by case,” Fried said. “But I should be good to go. Playoffs are what’s most important. So whatever is going to get us to that is what we’re going to do.”
Following the development of the blister during his previous start against the Philadelphia Phillies on September 12, Fried was given additional rest. This allowed him to pitch five innings without experiencing any discomfort during Thursday night’s game.
Snitker was not aware of the blister’s reappearance until Fried had left the game and received post-start treatment in the clubhouse. As Fried continues to rest, he can keep his pitching arm strong by using tape on his index finger. It is likely that he will also participate in at least one simulated game during the next few weeks.
“I hate this for him that he has to go through all of this again,” Snitker said regarding Fried’s recurring blister issue.
The Braves are hopeful that the blister will either go away or become manageable in time for the NLDS. However, there is now some uncertainty about Fried’s ability to make two starts during the five-game series. With an off-day between the first two games, both the Game 1 and Game 2 starters will have the opportunity to make a second start with normal rest.