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Talented Fried hits speed bump in Milwaukee

MLB.com @mlbbowman

MILWAUKEE -- Max Fried did not blame the reoccurrence of a blister for his latest humbling experience. But given how maddeningly frequently he has battled this ailment over the past few years, there's further reason to question how the prospect might fit the Braves' immediate and long-term plans.

Five days after producing one of the most impressive starts by a Braves left-handed pitcher over the past 30 years, Fried took the mound at Miller Park on Thursday night and endured one of the most frustrating outings of his young career. He began to battle a blister during the third inning, but by then the Brewers had already done enough damage to preserve their National League-best record with a 7-2 win.

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MILWAUKEE -- Max Fried did not blame the reoccurrence of a blister for his latest humbling experience. But given how maddeningly frequently he has battled this ailment over the past few years, there's further reason to question how the prospect might fit the Braves' immediate and long-term plans.

Five days after producing one of the most impressive starts by a Braves left-handed pitcher over the past 30 years, Fried took the mound at Miller Park on Thursday night and endured one of the most frustrating outings of his young career. He began to battle a blister during the third inning, but by then the Brewers had already done enough damage to preserve their National League-best record with a 7-2 win.

View Full Game Coverage

"It's extremely frustrating," said Fried, the Braves' No. 7 prospect according to MLB Pipeline. "I've done everything in my power to prevent [blisters] with treatments and all that kind of stuff. For it to keep coming, it's frustrating. I want to be out there, and I want to give the team the best chance to win."

Fried's struggles with fastball command and an inability to consistently get ahead in the count decreased the value of his curveball. As a result, the 24-year-old southpaw allowed four runs and four hits over just three innings. He recorded just one strikeout and issued a trio of walks, including one to Brewers starter Jhoulys Chacin.

All of the runs charged against Fried were tallied before a blister began forming on his left middle finger during his third and final inning. Knowing this ailment bothered the young lefty in 2016 with Class A Rome and caused him to miss three weeks while with Double-A Mississippi last year, Braves manager Brian Snitker wasn't going to take any chances by allowing him to continue pitching.

Snitker said it was too early to determine whether Fried could make his next scheduled turn on Wednesday. Fried was called up from Triple-A Gwinnett last week to replace Brandon McCarthy, whose right knee won't improve enough for him to return from the disabled list next week.

"It was starting to be enough of a problem that it was going to be a problem," Snitker said. "I think if he'd have kept pitching, it would have been a big problem. He has a history with that, and I didn't want to take a chance of ... him missing a significant amount of time."

Shane Carle provided three perfect innings of relief after Fried exited. But the Braves, who have lost three consecutive games since opening this road trip with four straight wins, were unable to solve Chacin, who allowed two runs and three hits over seven innings for the Brewers. Milwaukee wanted to stay away from three of their top relievers -- Josh Hader, Jeremy Jeffress, and Corey Knebel, and Chacin allowed them to do just that.

Video: ATL@MIL: Carle completes his third perfect inning

When Fried notched 11 strikeouts and allowed four hits over 6 2/3 scoreless innings against the Cardinals on Saturday, he got eight swing-and-misses and seven called strikes on 34 curveballs. He induced six whiffs and got just one called strike with the 21 curveballs he threw Thursday.

"I was trying to do too much," Fried said. "I was trying to put it on the corners instead of just attacking the zone and trying to get early contact. I found myself trying to throw too many fastballs in fine locations."

After leadoff hitter Jonathan Villar doubled and scored in the first inning, the Brewers added to their early advantage with a three-run second sparked by Hernan Perez's leadoff triple. Tyler Saladino provided an RBI single and scored when Fried uncorked a wild pitch and then dropped Tyler Flowers' throw back to the plate.

"The fastball command is big here," Snitker said. "In St. Louis, it was spot on. I don't know if it was the blister. He just didn't have the command today."

MOMENT THAT MATTERED
Third time through: Chacin entered this start with a 5.23 ERA after the third inning. Opponents had hit .338 with a .889 OPS during his third time through a lineup. But after Ender Inciarte's leadoff single and a Freddie Freeman walk gave the Braves two on with one out in the sixth, Chacin induced a Nick Markakis grounder that Perez turned into a double play.

Video: ATL@MIL: Chacin induces double play to end the frame

"[Chacin's] slider was late-breaking," Inciarte said. "He got a lot of swing-and-misses. He was just missing barrels."

SOUND SMART
The Braves gained an early lead with a two-run first inning highlighted by Ozzie Albies' RBI triple. Albies scored on a Freeman comebacker with assistance from Chacin, who didn't look the second baseman back before lobbing his throw to first base.

Video: ATL@MIL: Albies triples, scores on groundout in 1st

Albies added a third-inning double to increase his National League-leading extra-base hits total to 49. Freeman led the Braves with 65 extra-base hits last year, and Markakis ranked second with 48.

YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Inciarte capped Carle's three scoreless innings by racing deep into center field to rob Perez of an extra-base hit in the sixth inning. Inciarte ran 68 feet in four seconds to secure the long drive that had a 25 percent catch probability according to Statcast™. This was Inciarte's second five-star catch of the season. The two-time Gold Glove Award winner totaled at least four in each of the past two seasons.

Video: ATL@MIL: Inciarte covers 68 feet to make running grab

UP NEXT
Braves right-hander Mike Foltynewicz might be pitching to secure an All-Star selection when he faces the Brewers on Friday at 8:10 p.m. ET. Foltynewicz has posted a 0.87 ERA over his past nine starts and he has a 1.48 ERA in four career starts against the Brewers. Milwaukee will counter with Freddy Peralta, who has a 2.28 ERA through his first five career starts.

Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001.

Atlanta Braves, Max Fried