Max Fried will make his return to Atlanta’s rotation Wednesday with a start against Washington, the team announced. The Braves optioned left-hander Sean Newcomb to Triple-A in a corresponding move.
Fried hurt his right hamstring while running the bases on April 13, adding injury to insult in what was an awful outing. The 27-year-old yielded eight runs (seven earned) on nine hits and two walks in that game prior to his departure. It was the second poor start out of three to begin 2021 for Fried, who has put up an atrocious 11.45 ERA in 11 innings. Along the way, Fried has allowed 23 hits, including three home runs.
The issues that haunted Fried before his IL placement didn’t rear their head during the 2020 season, when he came in fifth in National League Cy Young voting. Last year’s version of Fried logged a marvelous 2.25 ERA over 56 innings, totaled 50 strikeouts against 19 walks, and gave up only two home runs. He also registered a 53.0 percent groundball rate, which has fallen to 41.5 this season.
Fried hasn’t been the only letdown in the Braves’ rotation this year, as newcomers Charlie Morton and Drew Smyly have joined him in preventing runs at a below-average clip. And the team has received zero contributions from Mike Soroka, who hasn’t pitched because of shoulder troubles. Thanks in part to the adversity their starting staff has faced, the Braves are just 13-16. However, the back-to-back-to-back National League East champions are still only 1 1/2 games back of the top spot in their division.