Max Fried scratched from rehab start with Gwinnett due to illness

RIght on the horizon of his return to the big stage, Max Fried will have to wait just a little bit longer to rejoin baseball's best team.

Washington Nationals v Atlanta Braves
Washington Nationals v Atlanta Braves / Brett Davis/GettyImages

It was announced less than an hour ago that the leader atop the rotation would need just a little more time to get back to Cobb County, as Fried was scratched from his final rehab appearance with AAA Gwinnett due to an undisclosed illness. Braves beat writer Justin Toscano broke the news to Twitter this afternoon.

Fried was set to return to his esteemed spot in the Braves rotation sometime over the next few days following his final appearance in the minors.

This comes right off the heels of an announcement made by the Braves earlier this afternoon, which saw relief pieces Lucas Luetge and Dereck Rodriguez, son of Hall of Fame catcher Ivan Rodriguez, sent back down to the Gwinett.

Following this move, Luetge has no more MiLB options, while Rodriguez has one remaining, according to FanGraphs.

Coming off of a season that saw him finish as runner-up in the 2022 Cy Young voting, all signs pointed to prosperity for Fried, as he entered the 2023 season as one of the most revered southpaws on the hill. Last year saw Fried post personal bests in ERA (2.48), ERA+ (169), innings pitched (185.1), and WHIP (1.014), excluding the stats from the shortened 2020 COVID season. He tossed 170 strikeouts with a career-lowest 0.6 HR/9 while posting a vastly impressive WAR of 5.9.

The injury bug came back to bite Fried early on in the season, seeing him go down at the end of March with a hamstring problem, returning for a short while before the forearm injury at the beginning of May, which has kept him out of commission for most of the summer. In between stints on the IL, Fried managed to post a 2.08 ERA through 26 innings of work, with a 2-1 record, an ERA+ of 220, a WHIP of 1.077, and an impressive SO/9 of 8.7.

All signs are pointing to another dominating campaign from the lefty craftsman. His command is perhaps the best we've seen in a while, only seems to get better with each outing. He's limiting harder-hit balls into play, and, overall, looks more comfortable on the hill. Should Fried find a way to squash the injury bug, all signs point to a potential repeat of his Cy Young-caliber performance of last season, hopefully ending with his name finally on the plaque.

As it stands, there is no set return date for Fried following the injury announcement, according to Toscano. It should be expected, though, to see the Braves' intimidating lefty back where he belongs on the mound sooner rather than later.