Buy ‘Em or Deny ‘Em: Has The Time Come To Believe In The Breakout Of Max Fried?

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It’s always tricky to determine which breakout pitchers are worth buying and who should be avoided due to what appears to be an impending regression.  There’s always going to be at least a little bit of risk, but let’s take a look and see who deserves our attention and who should be ignored:

Max Fried – Atlanta Braves
Fried has so far paired an impressive groundball rate with strong metrics across the board in the skills we look for:

  • Strikeouts – 8.32 K/9
  • Control – 1.83 BB/9
  • Groundballs – 51.9%

He has been hit relatively hard (39.8%), and that’s going to bring some questions, but the bigger issue is whether or not he can maintain this type of control.  Over his minor league career he owned a 4.0 BB/9 over 545.1 IP, including a 4.0 at Triple-A (72.1 IP) and 4.3 at Double-A (98.0 IP).  He also struggled over 33.2 IP in the Majors last season, with a 5.35 BB/9.

Early on this season he appears to have given up on his changeup (3.2%, down from 11.7%) in favor of a slider (9.9%, after not throwing the pitch last season).  Is that the reason for the change?  It’s possible, as it’s been his best swing and miss pitch this season (18.03% Whiff%) and opponents are swinging at it often (62.30% Swing%, as opposed to 43.11% on his changeup last season).  With opponents also hitting .067 without an extra base hit against his slider, all signs point towards that as a reason.

Maybe he’s not quite this good, but there is reason for optimism and reason to believer.

Verdict – Buy ‘Em

Sources – Fangraphs, Brooks Baseball, Baseball Reference

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