Braves News: Fried's masterful outing, Smith-Shawver's return, and more

Atlanta is starting to find their footing after an impressive night in Chicago.
Atlanta Braves v Chicago Cubs
Atlanta Braves v Chicago Cubs / Michael Reaves/GettyImages

The Braves are currently locked in a three-game series with the Chicago Cubs and have split the series thus far. Atlanta continues to fight hard every game despite lackluster results and that determination is slowly starting to pay off.

Let's check out a few quick newsworthy items from the couple of days of the season.

Max Fried's masterful performance fuels Braves win at Wrigley

The 2024 season couldn't have started any more poorly than it did for Max Fried. He was chased from his first start of the year before throwing a full inning and it looked like Atlanta's ace may have lost his mojo.

However, Fried made sure to push through the difficult moments and has become the face that every Atlanta fan remembers.

Fried tossed a complete game on Wednesday night in Chicago, cementing his spot as one of baseball's most dominant pitchers. He carried a perfect game into the sixth inning but Ian Happ ruined it with a hit.

However, this didn't stop the Atlanta southpaw from throwing his second complete game of 2024. Max ended his evening with 9 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, and 9 K. His command was sharp and he looked poised on the mound from the very first pitch.

This was his sixth career complete game and tied him for the second-most in Major League Baseball since the beginning of the 2019 season. Fans were treated to an absolute clinic from their lefty starter and it looks like he is back to form.

Atlanta's offense supported Fried as they exploded at Wrigley Field on Wednesday evening. Adam Duvall kicked things off with a two-run homer to left field as he continues to crush lefties in 2024. Marcell Ozuna and Matt Olson hit back-to-back home runs in the seventh inning.

Ozuna's homer broke things open as he drove in three runs to give the team a 7-1 lead. It also extended his hit streak to 15 games and tied him for the MLB lead for RBI (46).

Olson's homer was a solo shot that traveled 400 feet and left the bat at 105.1 mph. This was the fourth time this year that Atlanta went back-to-back and the second time Ozuna and Olson have done so in 2024. Atlanta desperately needed the offense to break out like that.

AJ Smith-Shawver makes his return to the big leagues in Chicago

The Braves surprised fans after Wednesday's dominant win over the Cubs when they announced AJ Smith-Shawver would start Thursday's series finale. Darius Vines was called up after Bryce Elder had another disappointing outing and it seemed like he'd be pitching in that game.

However, the Braves did need to cover two games with TBD listed for their starting pitcher slot. Smith-Shawver will start Thursday and it feels like Vines will more than likely start the series opener in Pittsburgh.

Atlanta has yet to announce a corresponding move but Braves insider Mark Bowman mentioned after the game that Daysbel Hernandez was saying his goodbyes after Wednesday night's game so it seems he will be on the way out to make room for AJ.

Smith-Shawver has experienced mixed results at Triple-A Gwinnett so far this season. He is 1-2 with a 6.10 ERA through 31 total innings. That includes 30 hits, 21 earned runs, 17 walks, and 35 strikeouts. The biggest things plaguing the young right-hander are home runs and walks which can be attributed to a lack of command.

However, he has the potential to be a great starter for Atlanta once he develops a bit more. He helped the Braves a good bit in 2023 as he completed five starts over 25.1 innings with a 4.26 ERA. Most of the issues that are effecting him now were the same ones he experienced back then.

Walks and home runs hurt him the most but his high-velocity fastball and great breaking pitches helped show flashes of greatness. Hopefully, he will be able to fool Cubs hitters and help the Braves cover as many innings as possible.

Austin Riley inching closer to return for Atlanta Braves

It's been tough for the Braves to be without their star third baseman after he felt some discomfort in his side last week. Zack Short has done a great job in his absence but fans are ready to see Austin Riley back in action.

Atlanta announced before Wednesday's game in Chicago that Riley hit off a tee to progress his way back to playing time. The team is being very cautious with him, similar to how they have been with catcher Sean Murphy. Murphy is currently in the midst of a rehab start with the Gwinnett Stripers.

They do not want to rush Riley back and risk him injuring himself further and missing significant time. He was starting to find his groove at the plate before going down with the injury so you know he's itching to get back on the field.

Atlanta's third baseman has batted .245 so far this year with three home runs, 18 RBI, and a .707 OPS. He hasn't been the dominant bat we've come to know and love but hopefully, that will change once he returns to the field.

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