Atlanta Braves 2024 season preview: Are we witnessing Max Fried's final season?

Is Max Fried set to turn in his final season in a Braves uniform? Fans in Atlanta certainly hope not, but nonetheless we preview Fried's 2024 campaign anyway.

Baltimore Orioles v Atlanta Braves
Baltimore Orioles v Atlanta Braves / Todd Kirkland/GettyImages

Left-handed pitcher Max Fried has endured himself to Braves country for many seasons now. Since his debut in 2017, Fried has won three Gold Gloves, one Silver Slugger, one All-Star selection, finished runner-up in NL Cy Young voting, and given a dominant pitching performance in the most important game for the Braves since Tom Glavine's 1995 World Series game six performance. Not a bad resumè.

While approaching the 2024 season we can't help but ponder if all those great accomplishments are set to continue elsewhere once the season ends. It's not something we are rooting for, but Fried should be among the most in demand free agents in 2025.

But this article isn't about the dark and mysterious long-term future with Fried, instead let's focus on what Braves fans can expect from the long-time ace in the 2024 season.

Fried looking to bounce back from an injury riddled 2023

Sadly, last season baseball fans were robbed of a season of Max Fried's brilliance because the LHP battled numerous injuries. The big injury was a forearm strain that limited Fried to just 77.2 innings last season. However, when he was on the mound he was still a very good pitcher, showcased by his 2.55 ERA and 3.10 xFIP.

Although he doesn't post the strikeout numbers his rotation partner Spencer Strider does, Fried still excels in limiting hard contact. Last season he ranked in the 95th percentile in barrel percentage, and in the 91st percentile in average exit velocity via Baseball Savant. He has a true five-pitch mix in his arsenal, each of which come with varying velocities and movements.

Fried has given us no reason to expect anything other than All-Star level performance when he has been on the mound since the 2020 season. His 2024 Fangraphs ZiPS DC projections feel the same way we do, as they project Fried to throw 173 innings, have a 3.27 ERA, 3.44 FIP, and be worth 3.8 fWAR. That projects as the sixth highest fWAR among NL starting pitchers.

All of Braves country would be happy with those numbers, but more than anything fans just want to see Fried on the mound more frequently than they got to see last season. If that turns out to be the case, it's hard to imagine a scenario where Fried isn't among the best pitchers in baseball once again.

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