Braves catcher Travis d’Arnaud: Max Fried definitely deserves to be All-Star

Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Max Fried throws in the first inning of a baseball game against the San Francisco Giants, Monday, June 20, 2022, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Hakim Wright Sr.)

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Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Max Fried throws in the first inning of a baseball game against the San Francisco Giants, Monday, June 20, 2022, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Hakim Wright Sr.)

Braves left-hander Max Fried might be heading home next month with a star on his jersey.

Fried is assembling another ace-caliber campaign. This time, with career-best numbers on the defending champion, it might earn him an All-Star nod. This summer’s game will be played at Dodger Stadium, not far from Fried’s hometown of Santa Monica, California.

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Catcher Travis d’Arnaud, who’s worked with Fried over the past three seasons as the southpaw emerged into a frontline starter, endorsed his teammate as an All-Star.

“Yes, definitely (he deserves to be an All-Star),” d’Arnaud said. “What he’s done this year is incredible. I hope he makes the All-Star team. He deserves it. He’s been our ace to start the year.”

D’Arnaud’s comments came after a magnificent Fried outing Monday. He pitched seven scoreless innings before running out of steam in the eighth, which led to him getting charged one run. Overall, Fried has a 2.77 ERA in 14 starts, posting a 83:15 strikeout ratio in 87-2/3 innings. He’s held opponents to a .234 average and .591 OPS.

Fried’s innings total is noteworthy. Only four major-league pitchers have logged more innings than Fried: Sandy Alcantara (99-1/3), Aaron Nola (89-2/3) and Miles Mikolas (88-2/3). Fried also ranks fourth in ground-ball outs (101), a priority for him as he lets a defense he routinely praises make plays behind him.

The All-Star case – it’s early and things could change, of course – is strengthening with every outing. Fried headlines one of MLB’s best pitching staffs. He’s the leader, a pitcher who started the World-Series clinching Game 6 victory in November and has carried that success through the first half of the 2022 campaign. His 2.4 fWAR is tied for third among starters with Zack Wheeler and Joe Musgrove, ranking behind only Kevin Gausman (3.1) and Sandy Alcantara (2.7)

While the Braves are heavily pushing their position players through their All-Star campaign, fans don’t vote on pitchers. Pitcher selections are determined by player balloting and the commissioner’s office. Fried’s growing profile should only help him there.

The Braves last had an All-Star starting pitcher in 2019 with Mike Soroka. Mike Foltynewicz (2018), Julio Teheran (2016, 2014) and Shelby Miller (2015) are the organization’s other All-Star starters since 2012.

Kyle Wright, assembling a fine season of his own, could have a chance to join Fried should he finish the first half strong. The Braves haven’t had two starters make the All-Star team since 2000 (Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine). The team is expected to have multiple All-Stars overall, faring well in the early portion of fan voting.

“It’d be awesome for (Fried) to be part of that, any of these guys who’ve never been there,” said manager Brian Snitker, who will manage the National League team. “It’d be huge for them to experience it.”