Fried gets Game 1; Anderson, Wright follow

October 12th, 2020

Two years after making his first career postseason appearance at the stadium he visited numerous times as a child, will now make the biggest start of his young career against that same Dodgers organization he loved while growing up in the Los Angeles area.

Fried will get things rolling for the Braves when he starts Game 1 of the National League Championship Series on Monday at Globe Life Field in Arlington. The lefty will be looking to get back on track after allowing four runs in just four innings against the Marlins in Game 1 of the NL Division Series.

“The last time out was just one of those days,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “I look for Max to go out and be sharp and just do what he can do. I have all the confidence in the world that he’ll have a real good game.”

The Braves also announced that will start Game 2 on Tuesday and will start Game 3 on Wednesday. Anderson has thrown 11 2/3 scoreless innings since making his postseason debut during the Wild Card Series against the Reds. Wright threw six scoreless innings while making his first career postseason start in Game 3 of the NLDS.

Asked if he was confident in the two rookies, Snitker chuckled and said, “I feel very comfortable. I don’t have any other choice.”

Throughout most of this season, Snitker’s only reliable choice in the rotation was Fried, who stepped up after ace Mike Soroka suffered a season-ending Achilles injury, and Mike Foltynewicz and Sean Newcomb were demoted, spending most of the season at the team’s alternate training site.

Fried missed a significant portion of September because of lower back spasms and left ankle discomfort. Still, as he tossed seven scoreless innings against the Reds in Game 1 of the NL Wild Card Series, he once again looked like the pitcher who compiled a 1.60 ERA through his first eight starts.

Fried experienced a thrill when he tossed 1 1/3 innings of scoreless relief for the Braves in Game 1 of the 2018 NLDS at Dodger Stadium. This was the ballpark the L.A.-area native had visited numerous times as a fan throughout his youth.

As a left-hander with a big curveball, it seemed fitting that Fried spent his high school days wearing Sandy Koufax’s No. 32. One of his favorite pitchers growing up -- and who he's drawn lofty comparisons to recently -- was Clayton Kershaw, who will start Game 2 for the Dodgers.

But those days of pulling for the Dodgers are a thing of the past for Fried, who is looking forward to getting back on track for the Braves, who are 12-1 in games he starts this year.

“It’s Game 1,” Fried said. “I’m going to go out there and try to give us the best start possible.”

Braves adjusting to big ballpark
When the Braves first worked out at Globe Life Park on Saturday, Snitker immediately recognized how cavernous the new stadium’s outfield is. He likened it to Marlins Park and Citi Field before the fences were moved in at both locations.

But when asked if the larger outfield might lead him to change his defensive plans for the outfield, Snitker indicated that Adam Duvall and Nick Markakis would remain his corner outfielders. Cristian Pache will likely continue to replace Markakis as a late-inning defensive replacement when possible.

“I like the options we have out in the outfield,” Snitker said. “It’s a very good defensive outfield. I don’t think that will change anything. We might just keep doing what we’ve been doing late in the game [with defensive substitutions].”

Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman said he hasn’t gotten a feel for the park’s size from his own batting practice sessions yet. But he said Dodgers slugger Max Muncy was complaining to him about a ball he had struck hard that landed on the warning track during the NLDS against the Padres.

“I’ve heard it’s a big field, but we’ll see how it goes,” Freeman said. “We’ll see if Ronald [Acuña Jr.] and Marcell [Ozuna] can clear a couple.”

Among players with at least 10 homers this season, Ozuna ranked first with a projected average home run distance of 429 feet. Acuña ranked 10th, at 414 feet.

Wash returns to Texas, LCS
Braves third-base coach Ron Washington is back in familiar territory with the NLCS being played at the Rangers’ new ballpark. The 68-year-old Washington managed the Rangers from 2007-14 and took the team to the World Series twice ('11 and ’12).

“He comes to work, does his job and does it very well, with a lot of energy and enthusiasm,” Snitker said. “Guys feed off of that. They have a really good time with him.”