Max Fried

From BR Bullpen

Max Dorian Fried
(Maximus)

BR page

Biographical Information[edit]

Max Fried was a top-10 pick in the 2012 amateur draft.

Fried started his high school career at Montclair Prep High School. When they dropped athletics, he transferred to Harvard-Westlake High School, where one of his friends, Lucas Giolito, was pitching (Giolito would also be a 2012 first-rounder). In 2012, Max went 8-2 with a 2.02 ERA, striking out 105 and walking 29 in 66 innings. He threw a fastball that usually was around 90-91 mph along with a strong curveball and had a UCLA commitment. Baseball America named him the top left-handed pitcher in the 2012 amateur draft class. The San Diego Padres took him 7th overall in the draft, the first high school hurler to go. The scout was Brent Mayne. He made his pro debut with the AZL Padres on July 2nd. Facing the AZL Athletics, he went one inning, allowing one hit and two walks and fanning one in a rough pro debut. He was 0-1 with a 3.57 ERA in 10 games (9 starts) for the AZL Padres that year. In 2013, he was 6-7 with a 3.49 ERA in 23 starts for the Class-A Fort Wayne TinCaps.

On December 19, 2014, he was the top prospect sent to the Atlanta Braves, alongside Jace Peterson, Dustin Peterson and Mallex Smith, to acquire OF Justin Upton.

Fried made his major league debut with the Braves as a reliever on August 8, 2017, pitching two scoreless innings in a 5-2 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies. After three other relief appearances, he was returned to AAA, then came back on September 3d to make his first major league start. Facing the Chicago Cubs, he was excellent, allowing just 1 run on 4 hits in 5 innings, the only run scoring on a solo homer by Ian Happ, to receive credit for a 5-1 win. He went 1-1, 3.91 in 9 game (4 starts) that first season, then followed that in 2018 by going 1-4, 2.94 in 14 games (5 starts) as the Braves won a division title. He was used out of the bullpen in the Division Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers, giving up 1 run in 2 1/3 innings whole appearing in all four games.

He was a full-time starter at the major league level for the first time in 2019 and turned out an excellent season as one of the Braves' most consistent pitchers. On September 5th, he allowed just 1 hit in 7 innings in shutting down the Washington Nationals, 4-2, notching his National League-leading 16th win of the year and extending his team's lead in the division race to 8 games. He finished the year at 17-6, 4.02 in 33 games, with 173 strikeouts in 165 2/3 innings. He was used exclusively as a reliever in the postseason, making 4 appearances as the Braves lost to the St. Louis Cardinals in the Division Series; he allowed 4 runs in as many innings of work, all of the runs coming in the nightmarish 1st inning of Game 5 that sunk the Braves' season. In 2020, he was one of the top pitchers in the National League, finishing 5th in the voting for the |Cy Young Award and 18th in the MVP balloting. He also won a Gold Glove for the first time that season. His strong performance was obscured by the fact the season was cut to 60 games by the COVID-19 pandemic, leaving him with a record of 7-0, 2.25 in 11 starts. He made his first career postseason start in Game 1 of the Wild Card Series, being matched up against Trevor Bauer of the Cincinnati Reds on September 30th. Neither pitcher gave up a run, with Fried going 7 innings, and the game was eventually decided in the Braves' favor in the 11th inning. He then started Game 1 of both the Division Series and of the NLCS, the former against the Miami Marlins and the latter against the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Braves won both games, although he did not figure in the decision in either game. His final start came in Game 6 of the NLCS with the Braves a win away from the World Series on October 17th, and he managed to pitch into the 7th inning, allowing 3 runs, but was charged with a 3-1 loss as he was outduelled by Walker Buehler, who pitched six scoreless frames.

On July 4, 2021, he fulfilled a childhood dream by getting a walk-off hit in an 8-7 win over the Marlins. He did not pitch in that game, but came up as a pinch-hitter for Will Smith with two outs, the score tied and the bases loaded in the 10th. He proceeded to line a single into center field off Anthony Bass to drive in Dansby Swanson with the winning run. It was not a complete fluke, as he already had had 5 hits and 2 RBIs during the season and had been used as pinch-hitter earlier in the season - but only to lay down a sacrifice bunt - and a few more times in previous years. It was a third straight excellent season on the mound as well, as he went 14-7 with a 3.04 ERA in 28 starts, also recording a league-leading 2 shutouts, in spite of missing three weeks in April/May. He struck out 158 batters in 165 2/3 innings. He was at his best down the stretch, with the Braves fighting off the Philadelphia Phillies to win a division title. He was named the National League Pitcher of the Month for September/October, on the strength of going 3-0, 1.54 in 6 starts. In fact, he won his seven last decisions starting on August 3rd, and recorded both of his shutouts during these two months. He went 2-2 in the postseason as the Braves won their first World Series title since 1995, recording his wins in Game 2 of the Division Series against the Milwaukee Brewers and Game 6 of the World Series against the Houston Astros on November 2nd. That last win clinched the title for Braves as he pitched 6 scoreless innings in a 7-0 win.

He got off to a great first half in 2022, after losing his first two starts of the year including against the Cincinnati Reds as the Opening Day starter on April 7th. After that he won his next four starts in a row, and when he defeated the St. Louis Cardinals, 3-0, on July 5th, he improved to 9-2, with the Braves having won 13 of his 15 starts since losing the first two. He was named to the All-Star team for the first time and finished the season at 14-7, 2.48 with 170 strikeouts in 185 1/3 innings. He was third in the National League in ERA and 9th in innings. However, in the postseason, he lost his only start which came against the Philadelphia Phillies in Game 1 of the Division Series on October 11th; he gave up 6 runs in 3 1/3 innings in a 7-6 loss. In 2023, he was limited to 14 starts, being out from early May to early August with a forearm strain. When he was able to pitch, he was as good as ever, going 8-1, 2.55. But once again, he failed to reproduce this in the postseason, as his lone start against the Phillies in the Division Series was again a dud, a 5-4 loss in Game 2 on October 9th in which he allowed 3 runs in 4 innings.

He started the 2024 season slowly as he was chased in the 1st inning in his first start on March 30th, then gave up 8 runs in 4 1/3 innings in the second on April 6th. His ERA was 18.00 at that point, but he did not have a decision as Atlanta won both games in spite of his struggles. He then won his next start, and on April 23rd improved to 2-0 with a true gem, a complete game shutout against the Miami Marlins in which he allowed just 3 hits. He needed just 92 pitches to complete the feat, giving a so-called "Maddux" for the third time of his career (out of four career shutouts). He pitched another gem on May 11th, going seven hitless innings in a game in which the Braves came within one out of a combined no-hitter against the New York Mets - until closer Raisel Iglesias allowed a two-out solo homer to J.D. Martinez. Max still received credit for the 4-1 win. It was actually his second hitless outing in a short spell, as on April 29th, he had gone six innings against the Seattle Mariners without allowing a hit but Joe Jimenez gave up a single in the 8th (and the Braves eventually lost the game, 2-1, on a walk-off homer in the 9th. In both games, he had had to leave the game after reaching his pitch count limit. He had another dominant start on May 22nd when he took a no-hit bid into the 6th inning in a 9-2 win over the Chicago Cubs in which he recorded his second complete game of the season. One of the only three hits he surrendered was a lead-off double by Ian Happ to lead off the 6th after he had been perfect through the first five frames, for his third start of at least five hitless innings in his last five.

Notable Achievements[edit]

  • NL All-Star (2022)
  • 3-time NL Gold Glove Winner (2020-2022)
  • NL Silver Slugger Award Winner (2021)
  • NL Winning Percentage Leader (2020)
  • 2-time NL Shutouts Leader (2021 & 2023)
  • 15 Wins Seasons: 1 (2019)
  • Won one World Series with the Atlanta Braves in 2021

Further Reading[edit]

  • Mark Bowman: "Fried tosses 3rd career 'Maddux' ... just as his team predicted: Left-hander shuts out Marlins on 92 pitches, allowing only 3 hits and no walks", mlb.com, April 24, 2024. [1]
  • Mark Bowman: "After Fried's gem, Braves 'pen falls 1 out shy of club's 1st no-no since '94", mlb.com, May 11, 2024. [2]
  • Mark Bowman: "Fried teases perfection AGAIN with CG gem as big bats mash", mlb.com, May 22, 2024. [3]
  • Corey Brock: "Padres tab high school lefty Fried with top pick", mlb.com, June 5, 2012. [4]
  • Daniel Kramer: "This emerging ace deserves Cy attention", mlb.com, September 4, 2020. [5]
  • Jesse Sanchez: "Fried delivers G6 gem after early ankle scare: Braves left-hander shows toughness, tosses 6 scoreless innings to help clinch title", mlb.com, November 3, 2021. [6]

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