During his self-evaluation, Fried said he identified some inconsistencies and said he believes he’s rectified the issues. He adds he’s 100% healthy and felt good after pitching a live batting practice ahead of his start.
“I wasn’t as crisp in my delivery,” he said. “I just wasn’t as timed up. I felt like I was really late and falling forward, wasn’t really driving the baseball like I was last year. I definitely wanted to make sure that when I came back I’d be doing more of driving the baseball and focusing on executing those spots like I was last year rather than throwing it in there.
“I feel more timed up. I feel like everything is more crisp and on point. I’m excited to take it out there, not think about it and go compete.”
The Braves have missed the old Fried, with whom they were 10-1 in his starts last season. They’ve lost two of his three starts in 2021. Overall, the team is 12-16 after getting swept by the Blue Jays in Florida over the weekend. This has been a trying, frustrating start for a club that was a few innings from a World Series berth last season.
Injuries have played a role. Fried and Drew Smyly were out for a while. The former is just now returning, while the latter hasn’t found his footing through the first month. The Braves’ offense has been dinged up, too, with injuries and underperformance.
“We’re battling,” Fried said. “Obviously we’ve had some injuries, guys are battling out there. Not playing our best, but definitely not out of it. We believe in every single one of these guys in the clubhouse. We know what we’re capable of, so it’s a matter of going out there, competing to the best of our abilities and trying to win. It’s still early.”
Early, indeed. Despite their generally poor play, the Braves are only two games back in the National League East. The Nationals, against whom the Braves open a three-game series Tuesday, lead the division with a 12-12 record. It’s helped the Braves that the rest of the East has been almost equally sluggish.
If the Braves are going to get back to their winning ways – and have a real shot at a pennant – they need the Fried of 2020 back. They’ll get their first look at a rejuvenated Fried on Tuesday.
“It’s going to be good to get him back in the rotation and on a regular basis,” manager Brian Snitker said. “He’s a very important piece to what we have going on here. When you lose a guy like that, there’s really no replacing him. It’ll be good to get him back in the action and doing what he can do.”