Max Fried is the unquestioned ace of the Atlanta Braves and he deserves every ounce of credit that comes with that distinction. He has been Mr. Reliable for the organization and the winningest left-handed pitcher in baseball since 2019. Monday night was another instance of a laundry list of moments that "Maximus" Fried has displayed the ferocity and outright dominance of a top-of-the-rotation guy.
Fried has been a major topic of conversation this week following his dominant outing on Monday in which he went 7.0 innings with eight strikeouts and two walks while giving up only one run on five hits en route to a 2-1 Braves win. This was his fourth start this season in which he pitched 7.0 or more innings and allowed one-or-fewer runs (third in the National League). There just seems to be something about Max Fried that when the going gets close, his game always seems to be at its best and that when you think of the four or five best pitchers in the NL, he belongs squarely in that conversation.
Grant McAuley joined the Midday Show on Tuesday to discuss, and he certainly seems to agree with this assessment.
"That's a really good thing to key in on with Max Fried," McAuley said. "When you look at starting pitchers and you look at a rotation, as you lay it out, you always want to have that guy that you feel like can show up in big games."
He has been the guy for this organization in big spots, with none bigger than his performance in the World Series last fall.
"I don't know if you can underscore Max Fried's desire to show up in that big game any more than Game 6 of the World Series last year," Grant McAuley told the Midday Show on Tuesday afternoon. "He had not necessarily had the postseason that he wanted to have up until that point. He had not really had that signature outing that he wanted to have. Somebody was just nice enough to step on his ankle in the first inning, and he said 'no, not tonight, not happening'."
The rest, as we all know, is history. Fried silenced the bats of the Houston Astros and struck out six en route to a World Series-clinching victory. Of the three hits he gave up after the first inning, two went for double-plays. He was just about as good as it gets.
McAuley explained, "That was the coronation, if you will, of Max Fried as the absolute ace of this pitching staff. He's the guy they need to turn to in big games and he's the guy they want to turn to in big games."
Monday night has quickly become more of the rule rather than the exception and he has quickly ascended to becoming among the league's best. While Braves fans have been quite privy to this information, it's past time that the rest of baseball come to terms with this reality.