Atlanta’s Max Fried is a very cool young pitcher. He got off to a great start this season, compiling a 4–1 record and a 2.11 earned run average through his first six starts, with a scrumptious 0.991 WHIP. He has also evidently run afoul of Fate, which came to collect its due in the second inning of Fried’s Tuesday night start against the Dodgers.
You see, back on Sunday, the Braves used the athletic and speedy Fried as a pinch runner in the 10th inning of their series finale against the Marlins, with the score tied at a run apiece. With Fried on first and no outs, Ender Inciarte ripped a liner fair up the line in left field, and Fried hauled ass around the bases like few pitchers are able, scoring the go-ahead and eventual game-winning run from first on the double and capping his jaunt around the bases with a very aggressive slide at the plate.
For as totally bitchin’ as that sequence was, the wide, head-first slide required that Fried jam his left hand—his pitching hand—into the leg of Marlins catcher Chad Wallach. That’s an extremely risky and even ill-advised move for a starting pitcher, the sort of thing that even if it doesn’t get your hand smashed to giblets could lead to a cut or a torn nail, the kinds of dipshit injuries that nonetheless affect a person’s ability to throw strikes. After the game, Fried told a reporter the message he got from manager Brian Snitker was pretty simple: “Don’t dive head-first again.”
Thankfully, Fried’s hand and arm survived the collision, but like the unseen antagonist in the Final Destination movies, Fate came back for the hand, via a vastly stranger and less likely angle of attack:
In his first start since the heroic slide, Fried saw an 89 mile-per-hour comebacker off the bat of Alex Verdugo come boring in on his neck in the second inning. Off balance and lacking any other means of defending himself, Fried threw up his pitching hand, which, owing to his very good reflexes, did its job and absorbed the baseball’s full brunt. As places where a pitcher can get smashed by a comebacker go, the pitching hand is right up there among the worst, in a tier with the dick and balls, and just beneath the head and neck. Not good at all.
Fried tried a couple warmup pitches, but neither came especially close to the strike zone, and Braves pitching coach Rick Kranitz pulled the plug before Fried could throw a third one. The good news is, the Braves say X-rays of Fried’s hand came back negative; the bad news is, that could mean his debt remains unfulfilled.