Fried's focus on control as Braves' G2 starter

October 28th, 2021

HOUSTON -- will take the ball for the Braves in Game 2 of the World Series against the Astros on Wednesday at Minute Maid Park with his team leading the series and the chance to fulfill a childhood dream.

The lefty is determined to embrace the moment, but his success will be contingent on his ability to control it. The Braves need length from Fried, especially after the season-ending injury to Charlie Morton in Tuesday’s 6-2 victory in Game 1 forced the bullpen into action in the third inning.

“When I have more of a pitch-by-pitch mentality instead of an at-bat to an at-bat mentality, things can speed up on you a little bit,” Fried said. “To be able to take a deep breath and know that if I make this pitch right here is all I really can control in the moment, and then be able to just kind of go from there.”

Fried threw six scoreless innings against the Brewers in Game 2 of the National League Division Series in Milwaukee and threw another solid six in the Braves’ 3-2 victory against the Dodgers in Game 1 of the NL Championship Series. He wasn’t nearly as sharp the next time out in Atlanta’s 11-2 loss in Game 5.

Fried pitched a scoreless first inning in Thursday’s meeting with the Dodgers, but it soon became evident that he didn’t have his best command. He missed the corners and left too many pitches over the middle, and his inability to control the moment cost him. He was charged with five runs and didn’t make it out of the fifth.

“We played a good team that's seen me a little bit, and they were aggressive in the zone,” Fried said. “When I made mistakes, they hit them.”

Fried appears calm and cool off the field, but he has built a reputation as a fiery competitor on it. For him, controlling the moment -- and ultimately, the Astros’ offense on Wednesday -- also means he will have to control his thoughts.

“You have to really trust the work and the preparation that you've put up until this point,” he said. “You do a lot of work in the offseason, all the years in the Minor Leagues, even the time between starts, and even the starts you make throughout this year to really just trust your process and really just kind of give it your all.”

In recent days, the left-hander has leaned heavily on Morton for advice. He has also received encouraging texts from Cardinals right-hander and White Sox righty , Fried’s high school teammates at Harvard-Westlake School in Los Angeles.

“Charlie's been just a very calming influence,” Fried said. “He's someone that's obviously had a lot of experience, and he never really gets too high or too low. He's pretty even-keeled.

“To have someone day in and day out to kind of look to and have as that anchor, it really helps you. Because obviously, you have a lot of emotions that go on throughout the year, and the more even-keeled you can be, you're able to stay level-headed and make the best logical decisions in the moment.”

Overall, Fried is 1-1 with a 3.78 ERA in 16 2/3 innings this postseason. He has allowed 19 hits and struck out 17 during that span. He had 158 strikeouts in 165 2/3 innings during the regular season, going 14-7 with a 3.04 ERA.

“[The Astros have] obviously been here. They've been in the moment. They've played a lot of playoff games,” Fried said. “This moment and the crowd and everything aren’t going to be too big for them. They're going to be ready to come out here and win baseball games.”

That’s Fried’s plan, too.