Fresh off 2nd CG of the year, Fried delivers 8-inning scoreless gem

May 29th, 2024

ATLANTA -- For all the adversity and uncertainty the Braves are facing these days, one thing they don’t need to worry about is , who keeps humming along a stream of constant excellence.

The latest example came Tuesday, when Fried’s dominance paved the way for Atlanta’s 2-0 victory over Washington at Truist Park, its MLB-leading ninth shutout of the season. Fried wasn’t perfect, but the end result wasn’t all that different, and Marcell Ozuna’s seventh-inning homer helped ensure the ace lefty continued one of the better runs of his career in winning fashion.

“He’s kinda gone back to being Max,” manager Brian Snitker said. “When he’s throwing like that, that’s kind of the reason we do this game.”

Coming off his second complete game of the year already, Fried induced a career-high four double plays to help him blank the Nats over eight innings. He scattered seven hits but ended up facing only three over the minimum via all those twin killings, including three of the ground-ball variety. Fried also recorded his 750th career strikeout in the effort as part of his six total K’s, walked only one and benefited from a sliding Adam Duvall catch to outduel Jake Irvin (6 scoreless innings, 10 K's).

“There’s not much you can say other than our defense was amazing tonight,” Fried said. “I knew if we got the ball on the ground, there would be a good chance to roll two. When you have that confidence out there, it makes it easier.”

Tuesday’s effort was something close to vintage Fried. He threw all seven of his pitches at least once, and none more than 27 percent of the time (that was his four-seam fastball). He threw exactly half of his pitches in the strike zone, half out. He allowed an average opponent exit velocity of just 86.3 mph, in line with his MLB-leading season average. He retired 12 of 14 at one point, picked a runner off and recorded only three of his 24 outs via fly balls.

“They have Max Fried,” Nationals manager Dave Martinez said. “He pitched really well. We got some traffic and he got out of jams with the double plays. We hit into four double plays. He pitched well. We just couldn’t get anything going.”

Said Snitker: “He left it all out there.”

It continued a remarkable run for Fried, who opened the year with two shaky starts but has been nails since. After allowing 11 runs in five innings over those first two starts, Fried is now 5-2 with a 1.75 ERA and a .175 opponents' average over his past nine outings.

“He’s in a good groove right now,” Snitker said. “When you get in one of those grooves … you kind of just don’t want to wake up.”

Aside from the red-hot Ozuna, the Braves are not clicking offensively right now, and now they have the added challenge of getting going without Ronald Acuña Jr. But even amid major injuries to the rotation, their starters are really carrying the load lately. Fried is averaging more than seven innings per start over his past seven outings. Chris Sale is averaging more than six, with a 1.87 ERA, over his past eight. Reynaldo López owns a 1.75 ERA for the year.

“I keep saying: When the starters are doing the bulk of your pitching, you’re probably going to do pretty good,” Snitker said. “It’s great.”