Max Fried gets start for Braves in Monday’s doubleheader opener

BOSTON – Not quite two months into the season, the Braves will use their ninth different starting pitcher Monday when rookie Max Fried pitches the first game of a doubleheader against the Mets at SunTrust Park.

Braves manager Brian Snitker said Sunday that Fried would be brought up from Triple-A to start the 1:10 p.m. first game of the split doubleheader. Snitker already said Brandon McCarthy would start the 7:10 p.m. nightcap.

It’ll be the fifth career major league start for Fried, a 24-year-old left-hander who was 1-1 with a 3.44 ERA in four starts among nine total appearances late last season for the Braves in his first call-ups. He had 16 strikeouts and six walks in 18 1/3 innings as a starter.

Fried will face Mets ace Jacob deGrom (4-0, 1.54 ERA). The Mets haven’t announced a starter for Game 2.

Rated No. 72 among Baseball America’s preseason top 100 prospects, Fried is 0-2 with a 6.00 ERA in four relief appearances for the Braves in 2018. He’s allowed four runs and six hits including three home runs in six innings, with three walks and seven strikeouts.

In five minor league starts this season, the slender lefty is 1-2 with a 3.12 ERA and has 26 strikeouts with 12 walks and no homers allowed in 26 innings. He’ll be on three extra days of rest since his last start May 20 at Toledo, where he worked a season-high 6 1/3 innings (four hits, three earned runs, two walks).

“That whole pool of guys down there, it’s whoever falls on” (schedule) when the Braves need a fill-in starter, Snitker said of the call-ups from Triple-A. “They’re all getting continued experience and opportunities. It’s nice to at least have guys down there that we can go to. And there’s a few more that we haven’t seen yet that would be in the mix.”

Fried will be the seventh starter in a nine-game span for the Braves, who also had Matt Wisler and Luiz Gohara make starts in that period along with rotation regulars Julio Teheran, Sean Newcomb, Mike Foltynewicz and McCarthy.

That number could rise to eight different starters in an 11-game span Tuesday if veteran Anibal Sanchez comes off the disabled list to start against the Mets, as Snitker indicated was a distinct possibility. Sanchez, recovering from a strained hamstring, had his second rehab start bumped up a day from Saturday to Friday so that he could be ready to pitch Tuesday.

Sanchez was 1-0 with a 1.29 ERA in three games (two starts) during April 2-13 before injuring his right hamstring while running sprints in the outfield the day before what would have been his third start.

The Braves could have prized rookie Mike Soroka back from the disabled list as soon as next week. Soroka, recovering from a shoulder strain, was to throw a second bullpen side session Sunday or Monday before making a rehab start later this week, Snitker said.

Nine starting pitchers in the first two months of the season might sound like a lot, considering the Braves used only 11 all of last season and 10 starters in 2015. But it’s nothing compared to 2016, when the Braves had 16 different pitchers make at least five starts.

And the quality of starters the Braves are using this season is significantly better than some of the fringe major-league types they used in 2016, as they now have a pool of starters in Triple-A that includes some solid prospects. Kolby Allard, 20, is another highly regarded prospect at Gwinnett expected to make his major league debut this summer.

Allard is 4-1 with a 2.09 ERA, 38 strikeouts and 15 walks in 56 innings after winning his ninth start for Gwinnett Sunday.