680 THE FAN, ATLANTA – When most Braves fans are asked who the teams ace is, the answer is easy. Mike Soroka, at just 22 years old, has emerged as the team’s best pitcher. But, the club has another emerging ace in the hole that folks around the game are starting to take notice of. On Thursday night, Fried looked every bit the ace as he retired the first 14 Rays batters he faced to open the game, before allowing a two out single to Mike Brosseau in the top of the fifth. However, Brosseau’s stint at first base was short lived as Fried picked him off the end the inning. Last season, Fried picked off five base runners which was tied for the most in the NL, just one shy of Cleveland’s Zach Plesac who led the Majors. With the win, Fried is still undefeated in four Interleague starts, improving to a perfect 4-0 with a 2.22 ERA against the American League.
While some folks probably don’t put as much stock in pitcher wins these days with the advanced metrics at their disposal, last season, Fried won 17 games, which was the most by a left handed starter in the National League. In addition, Fried’s 17 wins were the most by an Atlanta starter since some guy you’ve probably heard of, Tom Glavine, in 2002. And for as impressive as all those numbers are, keep in mind that he missed about a week and a half with a blister issue.
One thing is clear, the Braves are extremely top heavy when it comes to the starting rotation. But, the montra for the third through fifth spots can’t be “Soroka and Fried and pray for a big lead” if this team wants to get to where it wants to be this year. It’s hard to ask for anything more than you’re getting from the two at the top. Now, it’s time for the rest of the rotation to step up, and they’ll be challenged starting tonight as the Mets come to town for a four game set with Sean Newcomb on the mound at 7:10pm ET.
Kevin McAlpin has covered the Braves since 2012 for @680TheFan and the @BravesRadioNet.