Against childhood team, Fried treating Saturday’s start like normal

Max Dorian Fried was born Jan. 18, 1994 in Santa Monica, Calif. The Padres drafted Fried in the first round of the 2012 draft, seventh overall. Fried underwent Tommy John surgery in August 2014 and missed the 2015 season. The Braves acquired Fried from the Padres on Dec. 19, 2014 in a trade that sent Justin Upton to San Diego. Fried made his major league debut Aug. 8, 2017. Fried pitched two innings of relief in his debut, allowing two hits and two walks against the Phillies. Fried made his first big leag

Max Fried is trying to treat his start Saturday like another game.

Like any sports banality, there is some truth in the phrase, "It is another game." There are no outsized expectations for the 24-year-old, who was called up to fill a spot in the rotation — Braves manager Brian Snitker said he hopes that Fried "extends the game."

But the Los Angeles native knows it’s not every day you get to pitch against your childhood team.

“Treating it like any other,” Fried said before Friday’s game, “but it’s obviously going to be pretty exciting.”

Beyond that, Saturday represents an opportunity to extend his stay in Atlanta. The left-hander is coming off a dominant rehab outing at Double-A Mississippi, where he struck out 10 in 6-2/3 innings, allowing no runs and one hit.

He’s had success with the big-league club in spurts this season. On June 30, Fried struck out 11 in 6-2/3 scoreless innings. On May 28, he allowed only one earned run over five innings, earning the win. But the key, Fried asserts, will be in his ability to maintain consistency.

“If I can go out there and give the team six or seven innings every outing, that would be awesome,” Fried said. “That’s the consistency that you want to give the team every time you go out.”

The Braves, meanwhile, look to Fried amid one of their more prolonged scuffles of the season. Having lost 11 of their past 16, no addition — no less a back-end-of-the-rotation starter — will provide the cure. But shoring up that end of the staff could go a long way for an ailing staff and a team Snitker said “needs to go on a roll.”

"I'd like seven shutout innings, would be great," Snitker chided, before dialing back to the realistic. "Just command of the fastball is what you're looking for, good secondary stuff."

Fried had an inkling he would be the one to pitch Saturday — and found out officially yesterday. A lanky lefty himself, Fried grew up watching Clayton Kershaw, Friday night’s starter for the Dodgers. He said he tries to model his style after Kershaw’s.

Fried notes that he’s tried to pick up “(Kershaw’s) bulldog mentality and just attacking guys. He doesn’t take a pitch off,” Fried said. “He’s focused. He’s competitive. He goes after every single guy. Just keeping that really main approach is something I’ve really picked up.”

And while it may be just another start, Fried knows Saturday is his clearest path yet to establish himself as a regular within the major league rotation. Mike Soroka remains on the 60-day disabled list, still not throwing, as his clouded window to contribute in 2018 continues to shrink. Knee tendinitis has put Brandon McCarthy in a similar spot.

Fried was the choice over Luiz Gohara, who remains at Triple-A Gwinnett. The door is open, and he knows it.

But Fried is cautious not to over-emphasize this one start, adding he would be willing to help in any capacity, whether that be in the rotation or the bullpen, where he has been at times this season.

“A lot of that is out of my control,” Fried said. “I can really just control what I’m going to do out there, and wherever I’m at it’s not really in my control. So I’m just going to go out there and focus, give the team the best chance to win, and whatever happens, happens.”