Is Max Fried ready to become an elite pitcher?

Bill Shanks

Tyler Flowers said this spring that Max Fried has the potential to be elite. And he’s not alone.

Fried will enter his second season in the Atlanta rotation this season. He went from someone trying to make the rotation last spring to a pitcher the Braves counted on down the stretch. And a pitcher who made 30 starts and won 17 games.

With Mike Soroka entrenched as the top starting pitcher, the Braves need a compliment at the top. Mike Foltynewicz can be that pitcher, but you might also be worried he’s going to wind up back in Triple-A. And we’re not sure what the Braves will get from veterans Felix Hernandez or Cole Hamels, at least not yet.

So, Fried has his shot to take control of the number two spot in the rotation. He’s working on his changeup this spring, which is what gave Tyler Flowers hope more improvement is on the way.

Fried was great at now-Truist Park last season, with a 3.21 ERA in 15 starts, 88 strikeouts in 87.0 innings pitched. He allowed 84 hits and walked just 17 batter. Fried was also strong after the All-Star break, posting a 3.63 ERA in 13 games (12 starts) with an 8-2 record.

The Braves got Fried in the Justin Upton deal back in 2014. At the time, Fried was coming back from Tommy John surgery. The Braves’ patience in Fried has paid off, as he is now primed to become one of the critical members of the rotation.

Bill Shanks has more thoughts on video at the top.