Max Fried threw five innings during a moderated game at Truist Park without any apparent problems on Tuesday night. Good news? Sure. But assuming he’s fine, this isn’t necessarily unexpected news.
The Braves didn’t make Fried or anybody else available to talk about his appearance. The good news is this is the sports world, where nobody ever worries about anything.
But really, Fried and manager Brian Snitker could have told us the lefty felt fine and it wouldn’t have erased the real concern, which is Fried’s long-term availability during this postseason.
If Fried could pitch once every 12 days during the playoffs, we probably wouldn’t even be worrying about the bothersome left index finger blister that developed during both of his final two September starts.
The concern has been how frequently Fried might be available to pitch during the postseason. Tuesday was the first time he had pitched in a game-type setting since beating the Nationals on Sept. 21. The primary hope is the blister wouldn’t be an issue after this layoff of nearly two full weeks.
But even if Fried doesn’t feel a bit of discomfort over the remainder of the year, the blister is going to remain a concern until the season’s final out is recorded.
Fried wore a Band-Aid over his finger as he pitched on Tuesday night. He won’t be able to do this when he makes his expected start in Game 2 on Monday at Truist Park.
Even if Fried completes his start without any obvious issue, the question is whether he would be available to pitch four-plus days later in a potential NLDS Game 5 or possibly NLCS Game 1. When the lefty ended his six-inning outing at Nationals Park two weeks ago, there weren’t any obvious signs the blister had reappeared. Snitker said he didn’t know there was an issue until after Fried had gone to the clubhouse.
With a day off between the first two games of the NLDS, the Braves have the option to use Spencer Strider in Games 1 and 4, and Fried in Games 2 and 5. That’s certainly a potential benefit as long as the index finger cooperates.