A couple days before his start, the Braves’ Max Fried was talking to Travis d’Arnaud, and the catcher mentioned something in passing.

“Next time you go out there,” d’Arnaud told Fried, “I want a complete game.”

Fried delivered: On Tuesday versus the Marlins, the left-hander threw his fourth career shutout and his third of the nine-inning variety. (Fried had a five-inning shutout in a rain-shortened game last season.) The Braves beat the Marlins, 5-0, as Fried hurled the first and last pitches of the game.

He tossed a “Maddux” – the baseball term for a shutout thrown in under 100 pitches, fittingly named after Braves Hall of Famer Greg Maddux, who logged 13 such games. Fried now has three.

On Tuesday, Fried spun his three-hitter to the tune of one hour and 54 minutes – the shortest game, by time, in Truist Park’s eight-year history, including postseason contests.

Five observations on Fried’s masterpiece:

1. As everyone looked up at the scoreboard in the later innings, a thought prevailed: Fried could actually go nine.

“In the seventh inning, I was looking at his pitch total thinking, ‘This is what it should be in five,’” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “He was kind of two innings ahead of things. Kind of had a good feeling that he was gonna be able to go nine – or get into the ninth inning – anyway.”

Added Adam Duvall: “I remember looking up (in the) sixth, seventh inning at his pitch count, because that’s what I was kind of looking at, and it was just low.”

Fried epitomized efficiency. He completed nine innings in 92 pitches (69 strikes) – including an eight-pitch ninth frame. Through six innings, he was at 57 pitches. Through seven, he was at 72.

“Ah, that’s so much fun,” d’Arnaud said of catching a performance like that. “Obviously when he was through six innings and he was still on a 50-whatever pitch count, the Maddux came in my head, at least.”

“You don’t see it too often,” Duvall said.

Fried looked focused. He attacked. The Marlins were overmatched.

As he continued cruising, Fried tried to stay at it.

“Try not to think about it too much,” he said of his mindset. “Stay in the moment as much as you possibly can. Having really good conversation with Travis, working really well with him. And honestly, just trying to get back to the basics of who I am, and that’s getting weak contact, getting ground balls and being on the attack.”

Of his 13 Maddux outings, Maddux himself logged 11 of them with Atlanta. Tom Glavine threw five such games for the Braves.

They are the only two pitchers to have more Maddux outings than Fried.

“That’s kind of my thing,” Fried said of throwing a third Maddux.

2. For Fried, it had been almost three full years since he had a start like this. He was aware that it hadn’t happened since 2021.

Aug. 20, 2021, at Baltimore: Nine innings, zero runs, four hits, four strikeouts, 90 pitches (66 strikes).

Sept. 24, 2021, in San Diego: Nine innings, zero runs, three hits, four strikeouts, 98 pitches (66 strikes).

There were similarities, Fried said, between those games and Tuesday.

“I hadn’t had a nine-inning complete game since ‘21,” Fried said. “I was just very much on the same mentality of on the attack, try to get ground balls. Any time that you can go out there and give the bullpen the night off, it’s huge – especially because a couple of starts so far, they’ve had to pick me up.”

Of the 27 outs Fried collected, 18 came on ground balls – including the four outs recorded on a pair of double plays. He only struck out six Marlins. He just continued inducing weak contact.

After the Marlins collected their first hit, in the third inning, Fried rolled a double play. He faced the minimum through six innings. He faced two over the minimum for the entire game.

“Anytime somebody does that, it’s really good,” Snitker said of Fried’s shutout. “He was just so efficient tonight and getting in the strike zone and putting the ball on the ground. Guys were making some great plays, turned some really tough double plays. It was fun to watch.”

3. The reason Fried, at his best, is one of baseball’s elite arms can be seen with this: He threw 25 four-seam fastballs, 21 changeups, 16 sinkers, 15 sliders, 14 curveballs and one sweeper (a softer slider).

Not counting the sweeper as its own offering, Fried used five different pitches at near-equal amounts. Five!

And on this night, he dominated. The Marlins had no chance. This was a different Fried than the one who debuted with little confidence all those years ago.

“It’s been fun watching his development and getting to know him, and being with him pretty much the whole way, here,” Snitker said. “And it’s just how he’s matured and the confidence, and that he’s never satisfied, he always wants to work to get better and expects a lot of himself, and (is) very dedicated – everything that great pitchers are.”

And when those pitches are all working?

Well, it becomes rather impossible for hitters – especially the Marlins, who entered batting .199 versus left-handers, which was the third-worst mark in the sport.

“Yeah, I mean, because hitters can’t cover all types of different pitches,” Duvall said. “If you can command five, it’s just so hard if you’re hitting 0-1, 0-2 every time. And when he can flip the breaking ball in for a strike backdoor, guys are not gonna swing at that – they’re just not. Because out of the hand, it’s a ball. When he can do that and work ahead with his other pitches, it’s gonna be a long night for the other team and a short night for him.”

The Braves didn’t have to warm up any relievers.

“He never gave us a reason to,” Snitker said.

4. As Fried dazzled, his offense did its job. Duvall gave Fried and the Braves comfortable breathing room to allow this special night – the first nine-inning shutout since Bryce Elder in Washington in September 2022 – to happen.

Facing Marlins starter Trevor Rogers in the bottom of the sixth, Duvall hit a first-pitch slider slightly below the zone for a two-run homer.

When Duvall faced Rogers in the past, the lefty would use his fastball up in the zone. But this time around, Rogers tried to pound the bottom of the zone – perhaps, Duvall theorized, so his changeup could work off the heater down in the zone.

“I don’t necessarily want to start looking down there, but every now and then, you gotta go get one if you want him to stop throwing it,” Duvall said.

And this time, he did. It sailed over the wall in left field.

5. As Fried sputtered, struggling to gain his footing to begin the season, this possibility – the one that played out Tuesday – always existed. Fried, despite anything, always seemed destined to return to form.

“You see the focus and the intensity in his work, especially on game day,” Duvall said. “He’s just so locked in. He’ll start preparing for his next start tomorrow – whether he’s in the dugout talking with the catchers (or doing other things). He’s preparing for his next start as soon as this one’s over. And then when he comes in on game day, there’s this intensity and focus about him that just keeps him locked in.”

In two starts versus the Marlins this season, Fried has allowed one run in 15 1/3 innings. No, two outings against the six-win Marlins don’t mean Fried is officially back.

But Tuesday was the best he’s looked all season.

He had it all working.

“Everything,” d’Arnaud said.

Stat to know

32 - Fried’s gem was the 32nd Maddux in Braves history. They date back to, well, before Maddux, as Vern Bickford first threw a shutout in under 100 pitches on Aug. 11, 1950. Since then, 13 others have done it, including Fried, Maddux and Glavine.


“Absolutely. There’s no doubt. He’s just kind of been trending in the right direction, to me, for, like, all of the last three starts, really.” - Snitker on whether he feels Fried is turning the corner after a rough start to the season

Up next

Braves right-hander Reynaldo López – statistically the club’s best starter to this point – will start Wednesday’s finale against Miami, which begins at 7:20 p.m.