By KEVIN MCALPIN
680 THE FAN, ATLANTA – Just when it felt like the news couldn’t get any worse for Braves fans in 2020, it did. Tuesday morning, the club placed Max Fried on the IL with a left side muscle spasm in his lumbar spine. Fried, coming off another five inning outing on Saturday against the Nationals, saw his velocity on his fastball dip to the low 90’s. For comparison, in 2019, the four seamer was a pitch that routine sat at 94.5mph. Fried’s injury adds to a laundry list of changes the starting staff has had to make this season, with Soroka out for the year with the Achilles injury, Hamels slowed with a triceps issue, Newcomb and Folty being wildly ineffective and King Felix opting out due to COVID concerns. We said all summer that depth was key, and would be tested. And the Braves are finding that out the hard way.
With Fried’s injury being backdated, he’s eligible to return from the IL on the 16th of September, which would be next Wednesday’s series finale in Baltimore. “In an ideal scenario, we would’ve been able to move him back a few days and it [lumbar] would resolve itself” Alex Anthopoulos said on Tuesday morning. But obviously we know, this isn’t an ideal scenario as the team is in the midst of a stretch of playing 14 games in 13 days, with the next off day coming a week from Thursday on the final road trip. One bit of good news to come out of Tuesday’s conference call with the GM was the fact that Cole Hamels could also make his 2020 season debut in Baltimore next week. Hamels threw a live BP on Sunday following the Braves finale with the Nationals, and is scheduled to throw another on Thursday. If all goes well, he could appear in a Big League game next Tuesday, with possibly Fried following on Wednesday.
In addition to Fried’s injury, the club made a few other roster moves. Most notably, Charlie Culberson was designated for assignment to open a spot on the roster for reliever Jacob Webb. Meanwhile, Kyle Wright returns from the satellite camp in Gwinnett to start in game two against the Marlins tonight at Truist Park. While Culberson’s playing time was extremely limited, even in Ozzie Albies’ absence, the team hopes he can clear waivers and remain in the organization as a great depth piece. Anthopoulos said he had let Charlie know of the possibility of this move for the last week to ten days, and that Charlie understood and handled it like a pro.
Kevin McAlpin has covered the Braves since 2012 for @680TheFan and the @BravesRadioNet