On Sept. 12 in Philadelphia, Max Fried felt a blister developing on his left index finger toward the end of his start. Luckily, it was only a hot spot when he caught it.
“Basically, it was there, but it wasn’t too much sensitivity, or it wasn’t, like, a real bad one, where it got too many layers of skin or anything like that,” Fried said Tuesday. “At that point, we just wanted to make sure that there was going to be no issues. I think, probably, in a playoff scenario, I’m definitely pitching through it. But given the circumstances and timeline we have right now, it’s just better to err on the side of caution.”
The Braves have clinched their division. At the very least, they’ll have home-field advantage in the NLDS.
There was no reason for Fried to push through this, especially when he felt a blister beginning to form.
“It was coming on,” he said. “Kind of caught it before it got really bad. With obviously the position that we’ve put ourselves in, we didn’t want to risk it. They laid out a timeline, they said they would rather make sure that it’s completely gone, no issues, and not have to worry about it again.”
Fried is scheduled to start Thursday’s series opener in Washington. When the hot spot was fresh, Fried wore tape to keep throwing. On Monday, he threw a bullpen session without tape – a sign of progress.
Over 13 starts this season, Fried has a 2.64 ERA. He has 73 strikeouts over 71-2/3 innings. He’s pitched well when healthy.
On opening day, Fried suffered a hamstring injury and went on the injured list. In May, he hit the injured list with a forearm strain. He returned in August.
Since then, he’s at times referenced fighting himself or feeling not as in sync as he would like. The numbers don’t say it: In eight starts since returning from the forearm strain, Fried has a 2.96 ERA across 45-2/3 innings.
The decision to give Fried extra time couldn’t have been difficult for the Braves, who also are on pace to clinch home-field advantage throughout the entire postseason. Fried is their ace. They’ll need him this October.
They are playing to have the aforementioned home-field advantage, but there’s no reason to push their ace and risk a nasty blister blossoming. That wouldn’t be wise. Fried said he deals with little blisters all the time. The more important part is the location of those blisters.
“It’s just something that you gotta deal with in the season,” Fried said. “No one’s gonna be 100 percent.”