Max Fried allowed two first inning runs in Wednesday’s 3-1 loss by the Atlanta Braves to the Washington Nationals. Through two starts, he has a 5.73 ERA albeit with a 1.88 FIP. Fried was victimized by soft contact in his first start against the Reds allowing four hits with exit velocities of less than 70 mph. On Wednesday, he wasn’t happy with his command early on, particularly with his fastball.
“The first inning just love some balls over the plate and they made some good swings, but it felt like I was able to settle in and get back to pitching and get deeper into the game,” Fried said of his outing. “Felt more like myself.”
The shortened spring training has been a story line throughout Atlanta’s opening homestand. Brian Snitker recently said that they need to move on from that narrative given that every team is dealing with something similar. Fried didn’t want to make excuses for his first two outings and chose rather to take a big picture view.
“I think the best way to say is just more of perspective, not being too hard on yourself knowing of what’s going on, but at the same time understanding that these games still count,” he said. “Obviously you want to go out there and perform well to try to win. So you try to look at the good and the bad and just kind of see it for what it is.”
After allowing three hits and two runs in the first inning, Fried settled in until the sixth when he was struck in the back of the leg by a 91.9 mph line drive off the bat of Nelson Cruz. He initially stayed in the game but allowed back-to-back hits and exited after the Braves training staff didn’t like the way he was favoring the leg as he ran to back up home plate on one of those singles. Fried said that he was sore after the game, but didn’t anticipate it being a lingering issue going forward and expects to make his next start in Los Angeles.
“To be honest, when it first happened, I didn’t really feel anything and then kind of the stinging and then it just kind of tightened up on me,” Fried said of the injury. “It just caught me right in a good spot, right in the muscle. After I tried to go back up home, they said they didn’t like the way that I looked and they just wanted to be cautious and take me out before anything serious happened.”
“I definitely could tell that I was favoring it a little. At the same time, I knew that it was starting to tighten up,” he added. “The last thing I wanted to do is break out into a full sprint and then pull something so I understand the reasoning behind it. I definitely knew that as soon as I was going to be in the dugout, I was going to tighten up enough and probably was going to be tough to make it back out for the next inning.”
Fried is no stranger to a slow start. Last season, he allowed 14 earned runs in just 11 innings before heading to the injured list due to a hamstring injury. There is no comparing his first two outings in 2022 to last season as the underlying metrics suggest that he has deserved better results. The Braves saw a lot of ups and downs in the opening homestand, but Fried thinks that putting it all in perspective is necessary to navigate the long regular season.
“I think it’s important to know that it’s a long season. Obviously every game counts the exact same but to not put too much stock have anything that’s kind of all or nothing too early on,” Fried said. “You can make a lot of runs, especially towards the break and right after the break that are gonna be really beneficial to the team. Right now, I think that we’re still trying to get our feet under ourselves. Not saying we’re not going out there trying to win every day, but we’re definitely confident that things are going to start rolling for us.”
The Braves will begin a seven-game road trip Thursday night against the Padres.