Braves ace Fried returns to IL with blister issue. The lefty hopes to be back for the playoffs

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Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Max Fried throws during the first inning of the team's baseball game against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park, Thursday, Sept. 21, 2023, in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

WASHINGTON – The Atlanta Braves placed ace Max Fried on the 15-day disabled list Friday with a recurring blister issue on his left index finger, with the hope that extra rest will have him ready for the NL Division Series.

Fried (8-1) allowed one run on three hits over six innings in a 10-3 victory over the Washington Nationals on Thursday night, lowering his ERA to 2.55. But the Braves decided to shut him down for the rest of the regular season.

The team hopes Fried will be able to go in either Game 1 or 2 of the NLDS. The NL East champion Braves have MLB's best record and already earned a bye to the second round of the playoffs.

Before facing the Nationals, Fried had gone nine days since his last start in an attempt to keep the blister problem from reoccurring.

The 15-day IL stint will expire one day before the Oct. 7 start of the division series. If healthy, Fried or 18-game winner Spencer Strider would likely go in the opener. If Strider gets the nod, Fried could start Game 2 on Oct. 9.

Darius Vines was recalled from Triple-A Gwinnett to take Fried's place on the roster.

“It’s something that obviously happens often,” Fried said. “It’s just more about managing and dealing with it. It’s more of a case by case. But I should be good to go. Playoffs are what’s most important. So whatever is going to get us to that is what we’re going to do.”

Fried has dealt with blister issues since his minor league days, though it was not a problem in recent seasons. It cropped up again after a five-inning stint against the Phillies on Sept. 12.

Fried has spent extended time on the injured list this season. He strained his left hamstring on opening day and spent 15 days on the IL, then missed nearly three months with a strained left forearm.

Fried was runner-up for the NL Cy Young Award in 2022.

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