Atlanta Braves to start Max Fried in Game 1 of National League Championship Series

ByBradford Doolittle ESPN logo
Friday, October 15, 2021

ATLANTA -- The Braves will turn to lefty Max Fried for Game 1 of the National League Championship Series against theLos Angeles Dodgerson Saturday, it was announced.

It will be a rematch of last year's NLCS, when the Dodgers ousted the Braves with a Game 7 victory. Los Angeles won 106 games this season to capture an NL wild-card spot.

The Dodgers were traveling Friday and haven't yet announced pitching plans for the series. They are scheduled to work out at Truist Park later Friday evening.

It was anticipated that Atlanta manager Brian Snitker would tab Fried for the Game 1 assignment after Charlie Morton, who started Game 1 of Atlanta's division series against the Brewers, threw 3 1/3 innings during the closeout win over Milwaukee on Tuesday.

"You got to realize that the game is the same out there," Fried said. "Obviously the intensity and the pressure might be a little bit more, but it's still baseball. So you just got to go out there, stay within yourself, not give in to the situation and just make pitches."

Turning to Fried is a pretty nice fallback option for Snitker. He is, after all, baseball's hottest pitcher at the moment. Snitker, however, would have been content with any of his big three starters -- Fried, Morton or Ian Anderson -- after last year's postseason, when the Braves were left short by injuries to their pitching staff.

"I feel really good about all three of the guys that we're going to be featuring," Snitker said. "But it's a significant difference than a year ago when we started this tournament."

Fried led the majors with a 1.74 ERA after the All-Star break, going 8-2 with 13 quality starts in 14 outings. He continued his dominance against Milwaukee in the last round, throwing six shutout innings with nine strikeouts while earning the decision in Atlanta's Game 2 win.

When Fried takes the mound Saturday, he'll be facing the team he grew up rooting for while in Southern California. Fried has faced the Dodgers 11 times over his career, including seven starts, going 1-3 with a 3.79 ERA.

"It's definitely kind of nostalgic of just being able to look back, and it's obviously a team I was rooting for growing up," Fried said. "But at this point in my career I'm pretty settled in with the Braves."

Fried started twice against the Dodgers in last season's NLCS. He earned a no decision while allowing one run over six innings in a Game 1 victory, but allowed three runs over 6 2/3 innings in a Game 6 loss.

Snitker said he'd likely announce his starter for Game 2 later Friday. Morton would be working on normal rest if he were to get the call.

"I feel really good about where Max is in the season, where Charlie is and what he's done throughout his career," Snitker said. "I think it's a really good feeling to know we have two guys like that that we could choose."