March 25, 2021 –
BY KEVIN MCALPIN
680 THE FAN, ATLANTA – While it was speculated all spring long, on Thursday morning the Braves made it official, announcing that 27 year old southpaw Max Fried would be the man on the mound for the season opener one week from today in Philadelphia. Fried, coming off a season that saw him go a perfect 7-0 with a 2.25 ERA in 11 starts, boasts the second most wins baseball over the last two years. Only Gerrit Cole (27) has posted more wins than Max Fried (24) since the start of the 2019 campaign.
With the Opening Day nod, Fried becomes the first lefty to start a season opener since Tom Glavine in 2002. The righties that have appeared on the mound in lid lifters for Atlanta since include a pair of fellow Hall of Famers in Greg Maddux and John Smoltz, a Braves Hall of Famer in Tim Hudson, Derek Lowe, Julio Teheran and most recently Mike Soroka in 2020. Most people around the game view Mike Soroka as the ace of Brian Snitker’s club, but the numbers Fried has posted indicate he should get more love when it comes to what he’s accomplished over the last few years. Fried has turned himself into a bulldog on the mound. And the addition of the slider has been a big weapon for Max since he really started honing it two years ago. “I was excited. It’s something you dream about, something you work for, but to actually have [Brian Snitker] walk up to me and tell me is pretty special” Fried said on Thursday afternoon. “It’s been really neat to watch him mature and become the pitcher he is” said his manager Brian Snitker. “He’s one of those pitchers that expects to win when he toes that rubber” the Braves manager added.
Sure, 2021 marks the first Opening Day start of Fried’s career. But, if he keeps going like he has the last two seasons, it shouldn’t be his last.
Kevin McAlpin has covered the Braves since 2012 for @680TheFan and the @Braves RadioNet.