ATLANTA -- Ronald Acuna Jr. will make his much anticipated return to the Braves' lineup on Friday, and it appears Max Fried will be given an opportunity to provide some needed stability in Atlanta's starting rotation.
Before traveling to St. Louis on Thursday afternoon, the Braves activated Acuna from the disabled list. Brandon McCarthy was placed on the 10-day DL with right knee tendinitis.
Acuna fills the roster spot vacated when Wes Parsons was sent back to Triple-A Gwinnett approximately six hours after beginning his first Major League experience. With McCarthy on the disabled list, the Braves were permitted to recall Matt Wisler, who had been optioned to Gwinnett on Wednesday morning.
The Braves are expected to make another move within the next two days to create a roster spot for Fried, who will be brought up from Gwinnett to start Saturday's game against the Cardinals. McCarthy had been lined up for this start.
With Acuna's return, the Braves are carrying 13 position players. Since they prefer to carry eight relievers, it looks like a position player would be removed to create a roster spot for Fried. The potential candidates are Peter Bourjos, Danny Santana or Ryan Flaherty, who are all out of options.
Having lost five of seven, the Braves are looking forward to the return of Acuna, who had been on the disabled list since suffering a mild strain of the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee on May 27. The 20-year-old phenom ranks as MLB Pipeline's top overall prospect.
The Braves took a very cautious approach with Acuna, who spent the past six days completing a Minor League rehab assignment with Gwinnett. While going 3-for-21 over the past week with the Stripers, the 21-year-old outfielder provided confidence that his knee has healed and he will again be capable of offering offensive and defensive value.
Braves manager Brian Snitker said earlier this week that he expected Acuna would initially be placed near the bottom third of the lineup. But his return to one of the top two spots could come even earlier than anticipated, since Ender Inciarte felt some discomfort near his left oblique muscle during Wednesday's loss to the Reds.
While Wisler will serve as a long-relief option, Fried could make at least a couple of starts in place of McCarthy, who has posted a 6.17 ERA over his past nine outings.
McCarthy was briefly the rotation's odd man out, but he received another start once Mike Soroka was placed on the disabled list last week. McCarthy was not impressive in a 7-3 win over the Orioles, allowing three earned runs over five innings.
Fried made his first 2018 start for the Braves on May 28, when he limited the Mets to two runs -- one earned -- over five innings in a 4-3 win. The 24-year-old lefty posted a 4.66 ERA over his past five starts for Gwinnett. He surrendered 29 hits, struck out 10 and issued 10 walks in 29 innings.