ATLANTA – After a left ankle injury forced Max Fried out after the first inning of a 9-4 win over the Marlins on Wednesday night, the obvious question was whether he could be ready to play Game 1 of the Wild Card Series next week to start. “We’ll check him out tomorrow
ATLANTA – Once an injury was forced to the left ankle
“We’ll check him out tomorrow and go from there,”
Fried was not available to speak to the media as he was taken to an off-stadium facility for further evaluation.
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This is an issue the Braves will be closely monitoring as they prepare to kick off the postseason with an already weakened rotation. Right now, the hope was that Fried’s early exit from his last regular start of the season was a precautionary measure to prevent further aggravating his left ankle, which he twisted while pitching a Bunt by Starling Marte.
Fried initially advocated staying in the game. With the Wild Card streak only a week away, the Braves seemed to be taking the cautious route with their NL Cy Young Award candidate, who was injured on the list of injured earlier this month for lower back cramps.
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“He said, ‘I’ll try,” said Snitker. “I said if you don’t know you can go, we won’t test it or turn it around. That is [the last thing] He had to go out and hurt his arm while trying to get through. “
Had Fried continued to play, he might have reduced the opportunity to reach full strength at the start of the wild card series on Wednesday. What if Fried isn’t ready to start Game 1? If you’ve followed the Braves, you know there is no given answer to this question.
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It looks like the starters of the Braves in the best-of-three wild card series will be Fried, Ian Anderson, and Kyle Wright. Anderson was successful in three of his five career starts, and Wright’s candidacy for postseason rotation was questionable before finally putting together two good starts in the past two weeks. Cole Hamels was in the mix before his very short season of making a start ended this week with a tired left shoulder.
So much of the pressure is on Fried, just like since ace Mike Soroka tore his right Achilles tendon at his third start of the season. Fried more than mastered the additional responsibility and in the last few months created a solid résumé for the NL Cy Young Award.
But the past few weeks have not been so comfortable for Fried, who was put on the injured list after his pace slowed after suffering from back cramps during his Sept. 5 start against the Nationals. His four-seater that night averaged 91.5 mph, compared to the 93.4 mph average it had produced in its previous eight starts.
Fried’s Fastball has sat at 92.9 mph in the two starts he has made since returning from the injured list. However, the last outing consisted of only 22 pitches, half of which consisted of fours.
Immediately after twisting his ankle while turning Martes Bunt into an out, Fried Jesus allowed Aguilar and Brian Anderson to run home in a row. He entered his matchup against Aguilar after not allowing any of the previous 220 Batters to home run that year.
Because of this solo homer, the ERA that Fried wore for the past few months went below 2.00 to 2.25. It wasn’t how he wanted to end the season, but as long as his left ankle works together, he’ll still have the chance to end the year more appropriately.
Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001.