Fried told the Braves’ training staff he wasn’t feeling well before the game. But there were no apparent signs, as he limited the Mets to one run over five innings before being undone by a stomach bug.
“It’s Max, I'm not in awe anymore,” Dansby Swanson said about Fried’s performance even while ill. "The guy has got this competitive [gear], but you would never know it. He's the nicest guy in the world, but when he steps out there, man, it's like, he wants to dominate. You can just tell, he gets this look in his eye and it's like, ‘You go do your thing.’”
With help from Fried's strong start, the Braves claimed the opener of this three-game series and are now tied with the first-place Mets with five games remaining in the National League East race.
Fried appeared to get sick just before the start of the sixth inning. Television cameras showed the Braves left-hander rise from the bench, grab a garbage can and then walk toward the clubhouse.
Pitching coach Rick Kranitz followed Fried for a second and then alerted manager Brian Snitker.
“He said when he went out, he wasn't feeling great,” Snitker said. “After the fifth, he just looked and was like, ‘We can’t do this anymore.’”
Fried threw just 71 pitches, striking out three while limiting the Mets to four hits. He was replaced by right-handed reliever Collin McHugh.
Although the 28-year-old's latest outing was cut short, his inspiring performance kept him in the run for the National League Cy Young Award. The Braves' ace has started 30 games, earning a 14-7 record with a 2.48 ERA over 185 1/3 innings with 170 strikeouts and a 1.01 WHIP. In comparison, Sandy Alcantara, the Marlins' ace, has started 32 games, earning a 14-9 record with a 2.28 ERA over 228 2/3 innings with 207 strikeouts and 0.98 WHIP.
Fried could be available against the Marlins in the last game of the season if the Braves are still fighting for the NL East crown. If he isn’t needed on Wednesday, he’d be available to start Game 1 of either the Wild Card Series or NL Division Series.
“He loves the big moment. I think that's what it comes down to,” Austin Riley said about Fried’s performances in high-stress situations. “It seems like he steps up and focuses, and his stuff just gets better when he gets in those intense situations. It's fun to watch whenever [he] gets in those big situations and he bulldogs through them.”