Braves: Max Fried is on a tear, is an NL Cy Young next?

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Last night, Max Fried was at it again, tossing six shutout innings against the Cardinals in just 82 pitches for his ninth win of the season. The Braves have won all of Fried’s last nine starts and 13 of his last 15. Since the beginning of the 2020 season, few pitchers have been more consistent, and the Braves ace seems only to improve as time goes on. He’s currently on a tear that dates back a couple of years.

Since the start of June (seven starts), Fried’s posted a minuscule 1.75 ERA and 1.92 FIP. Over his last 15 outings, his ERA is 2.15. In his last 28 starts, dating back to August 1st of last year when the Braves began their trek towards the World Series, his ERA is just 2.08. And going all the way back to May 1st of 2021, after Fried returned from the IL (42 starts), his ERA is a ridiculously impressive 2.47.

This is no longer a guy on the cusp of being an ace. Fried is one of the ten best pitchers in baseball, and Dave Roberts might be right when he said Fried is the best left-hander on the planet.

“I think he’s the best left-hander in the game,” Roberts said via David O’Brien of The Athletic. “Just where he’s at right now, nothing to take away from our guys, but as far as his ability to go three times through the lineup, the pitch mix. It’s electric stuff. I think his 105th pitch was 98. He pitches to all quadrants. And he always seems to bring out his best against us.”

That’s pretty impressive when you consider Roberts manages Clayton Kershaw, who is having a pretty good year in his own right and won three Cy Young awards, but he’s spot on.

We’ve watched Fried blossom over the last three seasons, improving in a different area each year. His repertoire has expanded from primarily a fastball/curveball combination to a legitimate six-pitch mix. His fastball moves three different ways, curveball remains one of the best in the game, slider has become his primary punch-out pitch, and changeup is now another weapon opponents must keep in the back of their mind. Throw in Fried’s absolutely relentless mentality on the mound, and he’s transformed himself into a robotic-like machine that even the Terminator would be proud of.

To this point in the season, Sandy Alcantara of the Marlins has been outstanding, and he probably has the best stuff in all of baseball. His 1.82 ERA and 123.1 innings pitched lead the league. If the season ended today, Alcantara would run away with the NL Cy Young. But the season doesn’t end today; we’re only at the halfway mark, and Fried could have something to say about the competition come October.

Photo: David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire

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