When the Padres drafted Max Fried 9th overall in 2012, they weren’t anticipating updating his medical records on a weekly basis. The talented young lefty has only been able to find himself in 37 games over 3 years in the minors. When you’re expected to be the future of a team, averaging 12 starts a year isn’t going to to cut it, and it’s a worrisome trend he’s on.
The latest twist to the Max Fried saga is an injury to his elbow. Although nothing is confirmed yet, when you sit out the first half the year with a sore forearm and quickly go down with a sore elbow upon your return, red flags go up everywhere. The immediate reaction you have when you hear elbow and second opinion is Tommy John surgery. The Tommy John bug has swept through all of baseball this year, claiming victims from youthful Cy Young candidate, Jose Fernandez, to an old, never-injured vet, Bronson Arroyo. It is a definite possibility that he could go the TJ route, but for now we can only hold out hope that it doesn’t come to that.
The impact a serious injury could have on Fried is huge. Losing back-to-back seasons will make it increasingly difficult to come back, and he’ll essentially have to restart his development. Luckily he’s only 20-years-old, so there’s a lot of mileage left in his body. Regardless, the Padres would much prefer him gain experience than sit around trying to get healthy again. We can also look at recent Padres’ history to see the negative impact of Tommy John surgery.
Cory Luebke, Casey Kelly and Joe Wieland were supposed to be the leaders of the starting rotation, but none of them have been seen since 2012. Wieland was the first of the trio to return to the mound and that was just last week. I’m not trying to imply that Fried will be gone for 2+ seasons, but the Padres have had bad luck with some young arms and I fear the worst for Fried.
All of this could be absolutely nothing, and Fried may just be experiencing the aches and pains that every pitcher goes through. As fans we can just hold our collective breath, and wait for the news.