As the Braves narrow their 25-man roster options, it’s becoming more difficult to imagine scenarios without Max Fried.
The lefty had perhaps his best start of spring, tossing five scoreless innings in a 3-2 loss to the Nationals on a rainy Tuesday.
“Just the whole package was really good,” manager Brian Snitker said. “He threw some good sliders, curveball was good, some pop in the fastball. It was a good outing.”
Fried struck out seven and walked just one in the start he treated like a regular-season event. He scattered five hits over the outing, lowering his exhibition ERA to 2.35.
“That’s the best I’ve seen (Fried) in a long time,” one National League scout said.
It was Fried’s fifth outing, each of which he’s allowed two runs or fewer. He’s held the opponent to one or no runs in four of those appearances.
Overall, Fried has struck out 16 and walked five. He likes where his fastball command has been. He’s comfortable with his slider. The recurring blisters haven’t interfered with his roster bid.
“This is probably the best I’ve felt coming into the season as far as confidence, the ability to throw strikes and competing,” Fried said. “I’m really, really happy where I’m at right now.”
With the team’s once-acclaimed depth suddenly eroded by injuries, Fried becomes an even more important piece. He’ll be relied on in the bullpen and rotation through summer, but his starting point is up in the air.
The Braves have options with Fried. They could use him as the fourth starter - they don’t need a fifth until April 7 - or they could plug him into the bullpen, where his curveball plays well.
Fried could start in the minors, where he can be stretched out until the Braves have a need. Kyle Wright, Touki Toussaint and Bryse Wilson are also vying for roster spots.
“I want to be able to throw the ball the same,” Fried said regarding starting versus relieving. “A lot of that stuff is out of my control. So the stuff I can control is on the field. I just try to keep that mentality of, whether it’s the bullpen or starting, just pitch the way I know how.”
Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.
Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.