It has been a long wait for Atlanta Braves fans to see the return of Max Fried, and on Sunday he completed his first appearance since hitting the injured list with a forearm strain in early May. Often a precursor injury to Tommy John surgery, the hope for Fried and Atlanta is that a simply rehabilitation will allow him to return and avoid going under the knife. Sunday afternoon Fried laced them up for the Gwinnett Stripers and threw 35 pitches while recording five outs.
A sweet, sweet view for any Braves fan - Max Fried back on the mound pic.twitter.com/vT6h26rJBc— Gaurav (@gvedak) July 9, 2023
Fried started out his outing looking like the Fried of old, carving up Omaha Storm Chasers leadoff man Clay Dungan before finishing him off with a 76 mph curveball in the dirt. It wasn’t all turning up roses for Fried, however, as his command was just a couple of inches off all throughout the start and he had to battle to keep himself in at bats. Fried walked the next batter he faced on a 3-2 pitch, but then calmly picked him off for the second out of the inning. This proved important in keeping him in the game, as the next batter poked a fastball down the left field line for a double. Fried’s worst command came on a five pitch walk to Logan Porter, but after a mound visit he got a routine fly out to center field on the next pitch, ending the inning. Forward to inning two and Fried was clearly going with his secondary stuff more often in order to feel out those pitches and their location. He ran another count to 3-2 before finishing off the leadoff hitter on a curveball which netted him a foul pop out. Fried then faced our old pal Adeiny Hechavarria, who he ran up to a 2-2 count. Not wanting to take risks with their ace the Braves held him to a strict 35 pitch limit and pulled him in the middle of the at bat. Fried only threw 18 of his pitches for strikes.
Fried’s velocity in this game was a huge positive, as he topped out at 96.4 mph on his fastball and on his final two pitches of the day ran them in at 95.4 mph and 95.6 mph. Of Fried’s 35 pitches he threw 15 fastballs, averaging 94.4 mph on the pitch. He mixed in eighth curveballs, only one of which he landed in the zone. His slider and changeup each accounted for five pitches along with two registered sinkers. In total 11 of his 35 pitches were in the strike zone, with four of those coming in the at bat to Hechavarria to end the game.
UPDATE - Fried came out of Sunday’s rehab outing feeling good.