Did the Dodgers know when Max Fried was throwing his curveball?
It could have been because of the scouting report after Game 1. It could have been because the Los Angeles Dodgers had their backs against the wall in Game 6. It could have been because Atlanta Braves starter Max Fried was tipping his pitches. We’ll probably never know the truth.
But according to ESPN’s Buster Olney, a staffer with another organization believed it was the latter. And the stats do suggest something was up.
After getting shut down by Fried in Game 1 of the NLCS, the Dodgers rocked the lefty in the first inning of Game 6 to the tune of two home runs and an RBI single, which was enough for LA to take home the 3-1 win and force a Game 7.
And it’s possible Fried caught onto the situation and began changing his ways, because after the first inning, he tossed 5.2 shutout frames and kept Atlanta in the game the rest of the way. In Game 1, Fried didn’t surrender a run until the fifth and finished with six one-run innings with nine strikeouts. His curveball was fooling the Dodgers that evening.
But LA picked up on it on Saturday night, swinging at nine of his curveballs and making contact with eight of them. Corey Seager hit a home run on a 73 MPH curve to start the rally.
Then again, the Dodgers had the second-best offense in Major League Baseball throughout the regular season. Heading into Game 6, they had put up 32 runs through the first five games (though almost half of those runs came in Game 3). It’s also important to consider that this is Fried’s first career postseason as a starter. He got tattooed by the Marlins in the NLDS, which was sandwiched in between a blanking of the Reds and a dominant showing against the Dodgers.
It’s not crazy to assume Fried had an off night or that the Dodgers knew they had to be ready for the curve this time around, especially given the position they were in. Everyone is so quick to assume the opposing lineup knows what’s coming when there’s a quick bout of success, but there are a number of other reasons to explain this mini offensive surge.