This is now the third time I’ll be writing a very similar article over the last two seasons. Back in 2020, Max Fried toed the rubber in Game 6 of the NLCS with a chance to send the Braves to the World Series for the first time since 1999. We all know what happened; despite a respectable effort from Fried — 6.2 innings of three-run ball — Walker Buehler led the Dodgers past the Braves behind six shutout innings. The Braves would go on to lose in Game 7, and the murmurs of an Atlanta curse were never any louder.
Fast forward to Game 5 of the NLCS this year, and Fried once again had the chance to put those pesky Dodgers away. He was unable to get it done again, though, and the pressure was once again on the Braves to finish the job in the final two games, while Max Fried could only sit and watch. This time, however, Atlanta had a home crowd behind them, and they were able to push the team to a 4-2 win in Game 6. Nobody was more relieved than Fried.
Now, the Braves ace over the last two seasons has one last shot at revenge. Fried will get the ball in a series-clinching Game 6 with an opportunity to repeat history… in a good way.
Remember the last time the Braves had a chance to clinch the World Series in Game 6? It was another lefty Cy Young candidate on the mound, Tom Glavine, and he delivered the most memorable pitching performance in Atlanta history, tossing eight scoreless innings of shutout ball on the way to a 1-0 win over the Indians. Fried doesn’t quite have the resumé of Glavine, who won two Cy Youngs and was a ten-time All-Star. However, Fried’s stats from 2021 compared to Glavine’s in 1995 are eerily similar.
Fried (2021): 14-7, 3.04 ERA, 2 CG, 2 SHO
Glavine (1995): 16-7, 3.08 ERA, 3 CG, 1 SHO
Sure, Fried may not quite have the Hall of Fame status of a legend like Glavine, but he has the opportunity to etch himself into Braves glory forever with a standout performance in Game 6 tonight, and there’s not another current Braves player I would rather have on the mound to start such a pivotal game.
For all the struggles Fried has had over his last couple of outings, he’s still the ultimate competitor on the mound. He will constantly attack Astros hitters, leaving it all on the field until Brian Snitker comes and gets the ball from him.
— Atlanta Braves (@Braves) November 2, 2021
Maybe it doesn’t happen this way, but it certainly felt like Fried figured something out after the first couple of innings of Game 2, setting down the next ten Astros batters in order. It may have been too late to save the Braves then, but it could be just what he needed to pull of the ultimate redemption performance in Game 6, sending the team back to Atlanta with their first World Series title since 1995.