Did y’all notice that today is Friday the 13th? Spoooooky. More importantly, though, it’s Max Fried Friday, and fittingly, the Friars are en route to Atlanta to kick off a three-game weekend set. If you weren’t already excited about Fried Friday, you should be: Fried comes into the game eighth in MLB in fWAR with 1.1 — he’s top 30 in MLB among any starter with 10+ innings with a 71 FIP-, and top 15 in MLB with his 69 xFIP-. He’s throwing a bit harder than last year, and making good on an evolution I dreamed of here and there over the past few years, he’s integrated a changeup into his plan of attack. The changeup is currently holding batters to a .245 xwOBA and getting whiffs on 39 percent of swings taken against it, which has really helped Fried mitigate the loss of effectiveness of his slider, which started in 2021 and has carried over into 2022.
The Padres will throw Yu Darvish against Fried in the opener, and the two are well-matched in that their teams have fared similarly in the outings for both hurlers this season. The Padres and Braves dropped each of the first two starts by Fried and Darvish, but then have won the next four, so something will have to give tonight. Darvish’s seasonal line so far isn’t nearly as pristine as Fried’s (0.4 fWAR, 105 ERA-, 99 FIP-, 102 xFIP-), but a big chunk of that is driven by those first two starts, as he hasn’t posted an FIP- above 109 or an xFIP- above 99 in the four starts since. One of those starts came against the Braves, as he held them to a Marcell Ozuna solo homer in six innings of work with an 8/0 K/BB ratio, arguably his best effort of the year so far (and definitely would have been if not for the homer).
Overall, the Padres have rolled along effectively this season, as their 20-12 mark ties them for the sixth-best record in MLB. They did just drop a series to the Cubs, but they’ve done what they need to, as they come into this series with higher playoff odds (83 percent) than the Braves (72 percent).
We’ll see what happens, but it should at least be a good pitching matchup if nothing else. Of course, now that I’ve written that, it’s going to be a shootout/slugfest. Oy.
Last time Fried tangoed with the Padres, in late September last year, he did something amazing: he threw a Maddux, a complete-game shutout on fewer than 100 (98) pitches. This is a team that’s not mired in a collapse like that one was, but who knows. The Braves would certainly take back-to-back Madduxing of the Padres from Fried, given how their season has started.
San Diego Padres @ Atlanta Braves
Friday, May 13, 2022
7:20 pm EDT
Truist Park, Atlanta, GA
TV: Apple TV+ for some reason
Radio: 680 AM/93.7 FM The Fan, La Mejor 1600/1460/1130 AM
XM Radio: Ch. 181