Later this week, the Braves will finally play their first regular-season game. In the meantime, the intrasquad series continues.
The Braves completed another intrasquad event Sunday night. They’ll do so again Monday before hosting the Marlins for a pair of exhibition games on Tuesday and Wednesday. They open the season Friday in New York against the Mets.
Quick hits about Sunday’s game:
- Max Fried pitched his final outing before the season begins. He went five innings, allowing two runs on four hits. Both runs came in the first inning, after which he settled in and cruised through the remaining four frames.
“I feel like I’m prepared,” Fried said. “I’m excited to go. Counting down the days. (The environment) has definitely taken some getting used to, but the more we’ve gone out there, it’s gotten easier every time.”
Fried was officially named the team’s No. 2 starter earlier Sunday. While it will be Fried’s fourth season, it’ll only be his second as a regular starter. He had just 23 appearances under his belt entering last year.
In his first full major league season, Fried appeared in 33 games (30 starts), posting a 4.02 ERA with 173 strikeouts across 165-2/3 innings. With the help of a developing change-up, he’s trying to take another step forward in 2020.
“It’s really nice, really cool,” Fried said of starting the second game. “It’s awesome, honestly. There’s no other way to say it. I’m happy. I’m excited. I just can’t wait to get started.”
Credit: Atlanta Braves
- Like Saturday night, first baseman Freddie Freeman batted in every inning Sunday, including twice in the seventh to bring his total to eight at-bats. After missing two weeks due to COVID-19, the Braves and Freeman wanted him to have around 30 at-bats this week in preparation for opening day. Freeman is well on his way through two games, already having around 15 at-bats.
“I was looking at some old sheets I had from spring training, I’m not so sure he doesn’t have more at-bats now than he did when we left on March 14,” Snitker said. The Braves will have Freeman hit every inning again Sunday, and Snitker said he’ll talk to Marlins manager Don Mattingly about doing so in the exhibition games against the Marlins on Tuesday and Wednesday.
- The Braves’ bullpen looks ready. Mark Melancon started for the “away” Braves, notching a scoreless first. Chris Martin pitched a perfect second inning, retiring Adam Duvall, Adeiny Hechavarria and Freeman. He was followed by Darren O’Day, who faced four hitters in a scoreless third inning.
O’Day is sometimes a forgotten man in the Braves’ bullpen mix, but a continuation of his brief performance last season would add another look to the group. O’Day, 37, had a 1.39 ERA and struck out six in 5/1-3 innings (eight games). The sample was encouraging enough that the Braves re-signed O’Day to a one-year deal.
- Bryse Wilson pitched three innings Sunday, impressing in spurts but also allowing two home runs. Yonder Alonso and Alex Jackson took him deep. Wilson is competing for a spot in the rotation.
“You see a pitch here or there and an at-bat that’s really good,” Snitker said. “He’s still a kid. He’s still learning. He came through the system really fast. But the good thing is, for the most part, he’s got the strike zone. He’s a big, strong kid. He gets after it. He just needs experience.”
- Shortstop Dansby Swanson just missed a home run to right off Shane Greene. He’s put together some nice at-bats in the past week, including an opposite-field shot off Mike Foltynewicz on July 16.
Gabriel Burns is a general assignment reporter and features writer for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. After four years on the Braves beat, he's expanded his horizons and covers all sports. You'll find him writing about MLB, NFL, NBA, college football and other Atlanta-centric happenings.