ATLANTA — Sports are physical and demanding and unfortunately, injuries are a part of every season. When Mets star closer Edwin Diaz went down with a serious knee injury on Wednesday night after Puerto Rico’s victory over the Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic, there were a lot of discussions amongst baseball fans regarding their own teams.
Some were coming up with trade scenarios because the Mets may need some bullpen help now that Diaz is lost for at least six months. Other fans were wondering how they would react if one of their own star players was injured during the tournament and lost for the entire season.
On the latest episode of the Locked On Braves podcast, Jake Mastroianni was asked a number of questions for his Mailbag show but the biggest one was: Who is the one player the Braves cannot afford to lose to injury? The listener asking the question said he thinks it would be Max Fried. Mastroianni agreed with that.
Fried, the National League Cy Young runner-up in 2022, is projected to be the ace of the Braves staff. The left-hander finished 14-7 with a 2.48 ERA in 30 starts. He threw 185 and one-third innings and he would be a big loss to the rotation. But Mastroianni was careful to say that he believed stated the Braves could handle losing Fried in the regular season, it would be in the playoffs where it would be disastrous.
Mastroianni said the Braves need both Fried and Spencer Strider, who is number two in the rotation, to be in the playoff rotation and need them to be healthy. Fried and Strider were not one hundred percent during the Braves’ 2022 playoff run which ended with a Division Series loss to the Philadephia Phillies. Those two guys were a big reason why the Braves lost that series three games to one.
Some of the Braves fans in the live chat during the episode named other players like Ronald Acuńa Jr. as the one player you can’t lose, but Mastroianni pointed out that the Braves didn’t have him on the field when they won their championship in 2021. He also mentioned that the Braves have a bunch of players on offense who can step in if Acuna goes down and the offense wouldn’t miss a beat.
Another fan mentioned catcher Sean Murphy as a guy the Braves can’t lose to which Mastroianni said, “Yes, but they also have Travis d’Arnaud who is also really great at handling the pitching staff.”
So the bottom line is while there may not be one player whose loss could cause the Braves to completely crumble during the regular season, losing someone like ace Max Fried would be huge in the playoffs and lead to another early exit.
BE SURE to listen to the Locked On Braves podcast wherever you get your podcasts!