Atlanta Braves: Is Max Fried A Postseason Ace?

Max Fried #54 of the Atlanta Braves during Game Six of the World Series. (Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)
Max Fried #54 of the Atlanta Braves during Game Six of the World Series. (Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images) /

The Atlanta Braves didn’t get a typical Max Fried performance in Game 1 of the NLDS leading some to question the ace’s postseason potential. 

There is no question that Max Fried has become the ace of the Atlanta Braves — the ace they’ve been looking for since John Smoltz.

But after a terrible outing on Tuesday and a couple of bad outings in last year’s postseason, there is reason to question if Max Fried is an ace in the postseason.

There has been a lot of up-and-down for Fried in the playoffs.

Overall since 2020 when he became a full-time starter he’s allowed 27 earned runs on 62 hits and 10 walks over 54.2 innings with 54 strikeouts.

That’s an ERA of 4.45 and a WHIP of 1.32, which is different from his career regular season ERA of 3.09 and WHIP of 1.17.

Granted, you’re facing a good team every time you pitch in the postseason so it’s no surprise that a pitcher’s numbers would be a little worse.

But if you look at the starts individually, there has been a lot of up-and-down in the postseason for Fried.

Here is the final line for his 10 postseason starts since 2020:

7 IP, 6 H, 0 BB, 0 ER, 5 Ks

4 IP, 6 H, 0 BB, 4 ER, 4 Ks

6 IP, 4 H, 2 BB, 1 ER, 9 Ks

6.2 IP, 8 H, 4 BB, 3 ER, 5 Ks

6 IP, 3 H, 0 BB, 0 ER, 9 Ks

6 IP, 8 H, 0 BB, 2 ER, 5 Ks

4.2 IP, 8 H, 2 BB, 5 ER, 3 Ks

5 IP, 7 H, 1 Bb, 6 ER, 6 Ks

6 IP, 4 H, 0 BB, 0 ER, 6 Ks

3.1 IP, 8 H, 1 BB, 6 R (4 ER), 2 Ks

In half of his postseason starts he’s given up 3 earned runs or more and given up 7 hits or more.

And I know wins and losses don’t mean much, especially in the postseason, but Fried is 2-4; although, the Braves are 6-4 in his starts.

The starts where he’s been good he’s been really good and the typical Max Fried we’re used to seeing.

But it’s a lot more hot and cold than you might imagine for someone who is the ace of a rotation.

Part of the reason for that is that he isn’t a dominating type of pitcher in the fact that he gets a ton of strikeouts.

However, his K/9 is a little bit better than what it is in the regular season.

But Fried’s dominance relies more on getting weak contact, which he’s one of the best at generating with an average exit velocity against of 86.2 MPH and a hard-hit percentage of just 32.1% — both rank in the 90th percentile.

The problem with that is sometimes that weak contact finds a hole, which we’ve seen happen quite a bit with Fried in 2022.

And in the postseason, that leads to the pressures of baserunners, which leads to the possibility of big innings from errors or a home run.

Fried doesn’t have a big fastball that he can go to and blow by hitters in big spots, which usually plays up in the playoffs.

That’s why you’re sometimes going to see games like Fried had on Tuesday and like he had in Game 2 of the 2021 World Series where a team gets a couple of weak hits, the defense doesn’t make a play, and next thing you know there is a crooked number on the board.

As for what happened Tuesday, Max Fried wasn’t at full strength. He won’t use it as an excuse, but it was pretty obvious he was still feeling the effects of the flu.

It was the lowest velocity he had all year long, and 6 of the 8 hits he allowed were on that fastball that didn’t have any zip and he left over the plate.

Next. 2023 Arbitration Numbers. dark

Max Fried is still the ace of this Braves team and I feel confident every time he takes the mound. But you can’t deny the results in the postseason have been hit-or-miss.