ATLANTA — Max Fried returned to the mound for the first time since September 21 and stepped into as big of a pressure situation as one could imagine with the Braves already down 1-0 and needing a win. It definitely wasn’t the performance that he was hoping to have, but he was able to minimize the damage despite command issues but got through the start with no issues from the blister that landed him on the injured list at the end of the regular season.
“A lot better now with the win, that’s for sure,” Fried said laughing after being asked how he was feeling. “These guys played a heck of a game, they never gave up. All the credit for everything just goes to them. These guys, bullpen, defense, hitting, I mean, to make that kind of comeback and be able to have that kind of game, it was a lot of fun to watch.”
“I was awfully rusty. I had no command,” Fried said of his performance. “Only pitch I really had was my curveball and Travis did a great job back there trying to just get me through it with not a lot of command or stuff. That Phillies team is really good hitters and they put together a lot of really good at bats and they really grinded me down today.”
Fried gave up plenty of hard contact in the first, but only allowed one run before getting Bryson Stott to ground out with the bases loaded. He allowed a two-run home run to J.T. Realmuto in the third on a slider that he left over the middle of the plate to push the deficit to 3-0. He walked two more in the fourth, but got Harper to ground out to avoid any further damage.
Of Fried’s 95 pitches, only 51 went for strikes. He was constantly behind 2-0 and 3-0 which is a dangerous proposition against this Phillies lineup. Eight of his 15 swing and misses came on his curveball, which as he alluded to, was the only pitch that he had any confidence in.
With the Braves offense struggling, it felt like the game could have spiraled early on. Fried was able to grind through the first four innings, before the bullpen picked him up, allowing just one unearned run the rest of the way.
“Oh my God, huge,” Fried said of the job the bullpen did. “They’ve been doing it all year though. They’ve been unbelievable. In a day where I definitely needed to kind of get picked up, they picked me up big time. Threw some really big innings, big outs, never gave in and made some big pitches when they needed to. They’re a big reason why we’re able to come back and get that one.”
The biggest question mark for Fried going into Game 2 was how he would feel afterwards. He said there was no issues physically with blister or anything else and he is looking forward to getting another opportunity on the mound, whether that is in Game 5 or Game 1 of the NLCS.
“I would love to have another opportunity and yeah, hopefully we take the next two and move into the next round.” he said. “I’m looking forward to the next time I can get back out there.”