Braves: Max Fried looks like best version of himself in return

Max Fried Braves

Max Fried made his highly-anticipated return from the Injured List on Monday in a special place. San Diego is the team that originally drafted him before trading him to Atlanta in the deal that landed the Padres Justin Upton. I’m not sure if there’s any ill will from Max because of that, but every time he pitches against his former team, he seems to like to remind them that they made a terrible mistake.

Prior to Monday, Max Fried had started against the Padres three times in his career, owning a 2-0 record with a 2.05 ERA, and last night was no different. Fried was on the IL for over two weeks, but it took him no time to look like his best self again. As far as the stuff goes, I’m not really sure if I’ve ever seen him look any better. He was touching 98 MPH with his fastball, and he had complete control of every offering. His curveball was giving the Padres fits, and his changeup was spectacular.

San Diego only managed four hits, two of which were very softly hit, and no runs over five innings. Fried tossed 79 pitches, so he was evidently on a pitch count of some sort. The southpaw could have easily gone one more inning, if not even further, but given how many injuries the Braves have already suffered this season, there was no reason to push it. Fried’s outing was already a win for the team, and Snitker turned it over to the bullpen, who didn’t disappoint.

Dylan Lee, who is quietly becoming one of the best relievers in the league, relieved Fried in the sixth, setting down the first three Padres he faced in just seven pitches. He was so efficient that Snitker sent him back out for the seventh, and Lee wasted no time picking up right where he left off by striking out the first two batters of the inning. A double gave the Padres some life in the inning, but another strikeout left him stranded.

The Braves then turned to Jesse Chavez in the 8th, who found some trouble, putting two-men on for Manny Machado. However, the All-Star third baseman wasn’t able to take advantage, smoking a hard ground ball right into the glove of Ozzie Albies, who turned the inning-ending double play.

The final frame belonged to A.J. Minter, who has been lights out in save opportunities with Raisel Iglesias on the IL. The Braves led by two, with their only two runs coming in the first inning on an Austin Riley home run, and that’s all they would need. Minter set the Padres down in order, sealing the four-man shutout — the first of the season for the Braves.

Atlanta has now won an MLB-best seven straight games and continue to own the best record in the National League at 13-4. They’ll aim to extend that streak to eight with Spencer Strider on the mound tonight against Blake Snell.

Photo: David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire

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