Braves-Nats Opening Day starting pitchers: Fried vs. Corbin

March 24th, 2023

It will be a battle of southpaws when and take the mound for Opening Day at Nationals Park on Thursday.

The Braves begin their quest to defend their NL East title against the Nationals, who are developing their future talents following one of the biggest trades in baseball. In their meetings last season, Atlanta won the matchups, 14-5.

Fried is 2-0 with a 4.97 ERA in his pair of starts in Washington; Corbin is 18-21 with a 4.33 ERA in his 56 career starts at Nationals Park. Let’s take a deeper look at the two pitchers.

LHP Max Fried
Previous Opening Day starts: 2021, '22
2022 season: 14-7, 2.48 ERA

Fried will make his third Opening Day start and begin his bid to improve on a season that resulted in him finishing second in last year’s National League Cy Young Award balloting. The lefty has posted the third-best ERA (2.68) and produced the seventh-best fWAR (10.2) among all qualified MLB pitchers since the start of 2020.

Anointed the Braves’ ace during the early part of the COVID-shortened 2020 season, Fried has shown the ability to shine in big games. He threw six scoreless innings when the Braves clinched the '21 World Series with a Game 6 victory. His disappointing three-inning performance in Game 1 of last year’s NL Division Series against the Phillies came as he battled a virus that caused him to lose 15 pounds.

Fried limited the Phillies to two runs over five innings when he made his first Opening Day start in 2021. The Reds tagged him for five runs, including two in the sixth inning, of his 5 2/3-inning effort during last year’s season opener in Atlanta.

LHP Patrick Corbin
Previous Opening Day starts: 2022
2022 season: 6-19, 6.31 ERA

Corbin, 33, will get the ball for his second Opening Day start. The lefty is eyeing a bounceback performance in his 11th Major League season. After going 15-35 with a combined 6.05 ERA in his past two seasons, Corbin has looked sharper in camp -- including a six-inning, five-strikeout, one-run outing on Monday. He also is expected to see improved results with enhanced infield defense playing behind him this season.

“He has come to Spring Training a different guy,” manager Dave Martinez said this week. “He has a lot of confidence. He knows he can do this. He has had success before. He wants to put everything in the last two years behind him and just move forward. [We want him] to focus on getting one out, at all cost. Get the ball on the ground. Don’t worry about striking guys out. And that’s what he has been doing.”

On Opening Day last season, Corbin pitched four innings against the Mets. He allowed two runs on five hits and two walks, and he recorded four strikeouts in the loss.