Max Fried has strong outing against Marlins after uncharacteristically poor start to season

MIAMI (AP) — Max Fried's start to the season has been frustrating.

The Atlanta Braves left-hander didn't make it out of the first inning of his season debut against Philadelphia. In his second start, Fried needed 37 pitches to get out of a six-run first.

Fried bounced back strongly Friday night, tossing six innings of one-run ball with four strikeouts in an 8-1 win over the Miami Marlins. The 30-year-old left hander said he felt more like himself in the outing. He limited the Marlins to just four hits on 84 pitches.

“At this point, you kind of use anything as motivation,” Fried said. "Not performing to the standard that I hold myself to — it's nice to go out there and have a good one and help this team win because I really put us in some holes."

Fried was replaced by Pierce Johnson in the seventh inning of a seven-run game after giving up back-to-back hits.

The 2022 NL Cy Young runner-up had allowed 10 earned runs in five innings in an uncharacteristic start to the season, but Braves manager Brian Snitker said it was only a matter of time until Fried turned things around.

“Max needed that,” Snitker said. “He had a rough couple of first starts, and he rebounded and looked like his old self again. That was really good. It was really good stuff. It happens. If this happened in July after 10 starts or something like that, we wouldn’t (care). But it becomes a topic, and Max was fine.”

Snitker said he was most impressed by Fried's fastball, which reached 96.1 mph. Fried agreed, adding that his goal was to mix up speeds and keep hitters off balance.

“Fried’s curve ball was working really good," Marlins manager Skip Schumaker said. "He was stealing some early strikes and then was on the attack with the fastball up and the changeup down and away.

“The timing was off. We were back and forth with the fastball, off-speed. We couldn’t sit on one pitch because he was having all his pitches working.”

The improvement is a welcomed sight for the Braves, who could lose ace right-hander Spencer Strider for the season after an MRI revealed damage to the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow.

Strider was set to be evaluated further by Dr. Keith Meister in Arlington, Texas, at a date to be determined. Snitker did not have an update when asked before Friday's game.