With pitchers fried, Braves’ Fried tries to win World Series

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
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HOUSTON- At this point, they’re all fried.

Starters, openers, closers and the rest of them. So many pitching changes by the Houston Astros and Atlanta Braves, it’s sometimes hard to keep track of who’s on the mound.

“Everybody that’s in the World Series right now is gassed, everybody,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said during Monday’s day off. “Both teams, all the players. It’s been a long year.”

Fortunately for him, he can now give the ball to Max Fried.

With five full days of rest, the 27-year-old lefty will start Game 6 on Tuesday night at Minute Maid Park as Atlanta again tries to win its first championship since 1995. The Braves missed a major chance Sunday night, wasting an early four-run lead at home in what became a 9-5 loss that cut their lead to three games to two.

Luis Garcia starts for Houston. For how long, we’ll see.

It’ll be a big ask for the AL Rookie of the Year candidate as he’ll start on just three days’ rest.

“We think that he’s the best for the job. We realize that he has a short leash, but then everybody out there has a short leash and operating on low rest or not full rest,” Astros manager Dusty Baker said.

Not a surprise considering both teams have employed at least five pitchers in every game so far.

Houston relievers Phil Maton and Ryne Stanek each have worked four times. Teammates Kendall Graveman, Brooks Raley and Yimi Garcia have been summoned three times apiece.

Braves relievers Tyler Matzek, Luke Jackson, A.J. Minter and Will Smith all have three appearances already.

They’re fighting fatigue – and the familiarity hitters now have with their repertoires. But that’s how it adds up when there’s such a premium on finding the proper edge every inning. Many people play a role in factoring those equations.

“The organization gets together because we have quite a few pitching guys here in the analytics department, and it’s probably bigger on the pitching side of things, bullpen side of things, matchup side of things,” Baker said.

“We have charts and things … pocket sheets and stuff that we have to decipher and use at our discretion,” he said.

Garcia pitched into the fourth inning of Game 3 Friday night at Atlanta in a 2-0 loss, allowing one run and three hits. He needed 72 pitches to go that far, walking four and striking out six.

The 24-year-old righty won the clinching Game 6 of the AL Championship Series, blanking Boston on one hit over 5 2/3 innings. He said he had no concerns about pitching on short rest.

Other than condensing his workload, “not nothing has changed. I just want to do my thing,” he said.

Fried excelled in going 14-7 with a 3.04 ERA during the regular season and was sharp against Milwaukee in the NL Division Series and the opener of the NLCS against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

But he hasn’t looked anything like that lately.

With a chance to send the Braves to the World Series, and pitching in front of family and friends at Dodger Stadium, he got tagged for five runs and eight hits in 4 2/3 innings of Game 5.

He wasn’t any better in Game 2 at Houston last Wednesday, allowing six runs and seven hits in five innings.

“I think he’s been off a little bit the last couple times, hasn’t been himself,” Snitker said.

“I expect to see Max on top of his game tomorrow. I expect that every time he goes out. I mean, this guy probably, since the All-Star break, is one of the best pitchers in the game. So that’s kind of the version of Max that I expect to see tomorrow,” he said.

If it goes to Game 7, Ian Anderson would start for Atlanta. He pitched five hitless innings, then was pulled from his start in Game 3 Friday night.

“We’re in a good spot right now with Ian on tap,” Snitker said.

Fried would prefer to end things himself and give the Braves a whole winter to rest up as champs.

“Any time that you go out there and you don’t perform the way that you want, you don’t win, you want to go back out there and redeem yourself,” he said. “It’s probably going to be my last outing of the year, so there’s nothing to hold back.”

Report: Brandon Nimmo staying with Mets on 8-year, $162M deal

David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports
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NEW YORK – Center fielder Brandon Nimmo is staying with the free-spending New York Mets, agreeing to an eight-year, $162 million contract, according to a person familiar with the deal.

The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the agreement is subject to a successful physical and no announcement had been made.

A quality leadoff hitter with an excellent eye and a .385 career on-base percentage, Nimmo became a free agent last month for the first time. He was a key performer as the Mets returned to the playoffs this year for the first time since 2016.

The left-handed hitter batted .274 with 16 homers and a team-high 102 runs, a career high. He also set career bests with 64 RBIs and 151 games played. His seven triples tied for most in the National League.

Bringing back Nimmo means New York is poised to return its entire everyday lineup intact from a team that tied for fifth in the majors in runs and won 101 regular-season games – second-most in franchise history.

But the Mets remain busy replenishing a pitching staff gutted by free agency, including Jacob deGrom‘s departure for Texas and Taijuan Walker‘s deal with Philadelphia that was pending a physical.

On the final day of baseball’s winter meetings Wednesday, the Mets completed an $86.7 million, two-year contract with former Houston ace Justin Verlander that includes a conditional $35 million player option for 2025. New York also retained All-Star closer Edwin Diaz last month with a $102 million, five-year contract, and the team has a $26 million, two-year agreement in place with veteran starter Jose Quintana, pending a physical.

Those moves add to a payroll that was the largest in the majors last season. Under owner Steve Cohen, who bought the Mets in November 2020, New York became baseball’s biggest spender this year for the first time since 1989. The Mets’ payroll was $273.9 million as of Aug. 31, with final figures that include bonuses yet to be compiled.

Nimmo was selected by New York with the No. 13 pick in the 2011 amateur draft. He declined a $19.65 million qualifying offer from the Mets last month.

The 29-year-old Wyoming native made his big league debut in 2016. He is a .269 career hitter with 63 homers, 213 RBIs and 23 triples in 608 games. He has an .827 career OPS and has improved his play in center, becoming a solid defender.

Nimmo’s new deal with the Mets was first reported by the New York Post.