Max Fried was lights-out for the Atlanta Braves against the Rockies on Tuesday night. The 25-year-old went 6 innings and allowed zero earned runs. Fried went to Colorado, a notoriously hitter-friendly park, and backed up his first start, which was also phenomenal. It has been the assumption Fried would move to the bullpen or minors when Mike Foltynewicz and Mike Soroka came back. After last night’s showing, Fried isn’t going to be moved out of this rotation anytime soon.
Max Fried has been the best pitcher for the Atlanta Braves. Fried started the season in the bullpen, but after the injuries have stacked up for the Braves starting rotation, the young pitcher was called up to make his first start against the Cubs. The Cubs haven’t been the best team in baseball at the start of the season, but Chicago’s lineup is still loaded with talented hitters. Fried pitched 6 innings while only giving up one hit. It was the performance of the young season for the Braves pitching staff. Fried wasn’t finished.
Pitching in Denver is no easy task, for any pitcher. The ball flies out of the ballpark wherein other parks you’re fielding pop flies. Fried going out to shutout the Rockies with a lineup that includes Nolan Arenado, Trevor Story, and Ian Desmond is not a feat to be scoffed at. After the two performances from Fried, the Braves should have no intention on moving him out of the starting rotation. He’s been the bright spot of the Braves rotation so far. So that means who will make room when the Braves get their healthy pitchers back?
When Folty and Soroka come back, there will have to be moves made in the Braves rotation. Kyle Wright, who has pitched very well, is the first obvious candidate. Maybe a move to the bullpen. Or a move to the minors to keep him stretched out. That’s one spot for Folty, whenever he is ready to come back, which should be sooner than later. And with Soroka coming off such a long layoff with the shoulder, then having more inflammation in the shoulder in Spring Training, the Braves may want to ease him back through the minors to give him time. However, Soroka will return eventually. And if he is back to his old ways, there will be a spot for Soroka in the Braves rotation. That means Fried would be on the outside looking unless the Braves pulled the trigger on a move to open a spot in the rotation.
Julio Teheran has been inconsistent to start this season. In three starts, Teheran has a 6 ERA, giving up 8 HRs, and 15 hits in 15 innings. It’s been typical Julio, who can look like a top of the rotation starter, and then crumble into a mess before the 6th inning. His last start, in Colorado, started well. The Braves gave Teheran a 7-0 lead only to have him almost give up that lead in one inning. It was a dreadful performance. It makes you wonder what the Braves are planning to do with Julio Teheran. Do the Braves pull the trigger on a trade? Could Julio be used in the bullpen? Whatever the team does, they need to make a decision soon, because Teheran is the weak link in this rotation. The Braves have too many young pitchers with talent to keep giving innings to Teheran. Don’t be shocked if we see Teheran moved to make room for Max Fried.
Max Fried has looked like an ace. This doesn’t mean he will stay this hot, but it does mean the Braves can’t move the guy out of the rotation yet. He’s been the best pitcher for the Braves, and they should ride as long as they can. Fried, at the moment, gives the Braves a better chance to win than Julio Teheran or Kyle Wright. If Fried can stay this hot with the addition of Kevin Gausman, Mike Foltynewicz, and Sean Newcomb, this Braves staff can be one of the better staffs in all of baseball.
The Braves might have found a special pitcher by chance early this season. Fried has done enough to earn a spot in this rotation. Let’s just hope the Braves are thinking the same thing.