Blister forces Braves’ Max Fried to the injured list, ending his regular season

Atlanta Braves' starting pitcher Max Fried (54) throws a pitch against the St. Louis Cardinals during the first inning at Truist Park, Thursday, September 7, 2023, in Atlanta. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

Atlanta Braves' starting pitcher Max Fried (54) throws a pitch against the St. Louis Cardinals during the first inning at Truist Park, Thursday, September 7, 2023, in Atlanta. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)

WASHINGTON — After Thursday’s win over the Nationals, Max Fried – who held the home nine to a run over six innings – revealed that fluid had built up in a blister on his left finger toward the end of his outing.

This effectively ended his regular season.

The Braves on Friday placed Fried on the 15-day injured list because of the blister. They recalled Darius Vines to take the roster spot.

The important note: On Oct. 7, Fried will be eligible to start Game 1 of the National League Division Series at Truist Park. He’ll have spent 15 days on the injured list by then.

“He’ll be able to come off right before the Division Series, so hopefully he makes his start in that series,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said Friday afternoon at Nationals Park. “He can continue to throw now. We can keep him active (by) covering that thing up. It was bad enough where he wasn’t going to make his next start. It’s just kind of unfortunate.”

When asked if the Braves’ trainers are confident Fried’s blister will have cleared up and healed by the start of the NLDS, Snitker said: “They feel good that it will. I hope it will.”

Fried has a history of blisters. He’s accustomed to them.

This is what Snitker said about this one:

“This is a different spot than what they used to be – more like on the pad (of the index finger). I was under the impression when he came out of the game that everything was fine. I think they cleaned it up. When they started cutting around all those things, it was bad enough where he wasn’t going to be able to make his next start. But I think we can keep his arm going. They can bandage it up and protect it, and he can continue to throw next week when we do our workouts and all that.”

In the time before Thursday’s start, Fried threw with tape on the blister. It seemed like it had healed.

“I guess you just never know on those things, when (pitchers) start gripping and getting everything going,” Snitker said. “I hate it for him and that we gotta go through all this again. It is what it is.”

This is the same blister that forced the Braves to push back Fried’s start to Thursday in Washington. He’ll be skipping his final start as he gets treatment, which he said includes high-tech equipment and ointments that aid in the blister’s healing. Fans are understandably concerned, as the postseason is only two weeks away. But this should be enough time for Fried.

When asked Thursday night about his confidence in getting the blister under control for the postseason, Fried said: “We’re gonna do everything in our power. At the end of the day, it’s about getting outs and performing in the playoffs. So, whatever we need to do to be able to set us up for that is my goal.”

By now, Fried is used to dealing with blisters.

“It’s something that obviously happens often,” Fried said Thursday. “Just more about managing and dealing with it. It’s more of, like, case by case, I would say. But I should be good to go for – obviously, playoffs are most important, so whatever is going to be able to get us in line for that, that’s what we’re gonna do.”

This is Fried’s third time on the injured list this season. He injured his hamstring on opening day here in Washington. In May, he landed on the injured list with a forearm strain. And now, the blister has ended his regular season.

Around all of that, he pitched well. Over 14 starts, he posted a 2.55 ERA over 77-2/3 innings. Fried never has allowed more than five runs in a start, and he did that only once – and still went six innings. (It was when he faced Baltimore before going on the injured list with a forearm strain.) He surrendered four runs once.

He pitched like an ace.

But the Braves will need him in October. They have terrific pitching depth, as they’ve shown this season, but a path to a championship likely includes Fried, as pitching is so important in the postseason.

For now, Vines will serve as bullpen depth. On Friday, he threw 3 1/3 innings in relief as the Braves needed their bullpen to cover the game after Charlie Morton pitched only one inning because of a right index finger sprain. Vines allowed three runs and walked three batters. He struck out one.

Over four appearances (one start) for Atlanta this season, Vines has permitted seven runs over 14 1/3 innings. In that start at Coors Field, a pitcher’s nightmare, Vines limited the Rockies to two runs over six innings in his MLB debut.

In the minors, Vines – who got a late start to his season because of a slipped disk in his neck – posted a 2.37 ERA over 10 games (nine starts). Across 49-1/3 innings, he struck out 49 batters. This includes his rehab starts at the lower levels. At Triple-A Gwinnett alone, he had a 2.36 ERA across 34-1/3 innings over six games (five starts).

The Braves on Thursday scratched Vines from his start for Gwinnett. Less than 24 hours later, he took Fried’s spot on the roster.

Snitker saw Fried on Thursday night, when the Braves knew their ace would be going on the injured list.

“He was good with everything,” Snitker said. “He understands.”

Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Max Fried, left, talks with starting pitcher Spencer Strider in the dugout during the Braves’ game against the New York Mets at Truist Park, Tuesday, June 6, 2023, in Atlanta. Fried has been on the injured list this three times this season. He injured his hamstring on opening day here in Washington. In May, he landed on the injured list with a forearm strain. And now, the blister has ended his regular season. (Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com)

Credit: Jason.Getz@ajc.com

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Credit: Jason.Getz@ajc.com

Atlanta Braves pitcher Darius Vines throws a pitch during the sixth inning at Truist Park, Wednesday, September 6, 2023, in Atlanta. St. Louis Cardinals won 11-6 over Atlanta Braves. Over three appearances for the Braves this season, including one start, Vines has given up four runs over 11 innings. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

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Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC