Fried a Lock for Rotation & Duvall versus Riley

ATLANTA, GA – OCTOBER 07: Max  Fried #54 of the Atlanta Braves pitches in the fifth inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers during Game Three of the National League Division Series at SunTrust Park on October 7, 2018 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)

Almost a week away from Opening Day, things are starting to become clearer in terms of the rotation and bench for the Atlanta Braves.

Entering the game on Tuesday against the Nationals, Max Fried was probably on the outside of the top five for the Atlanta Braves starting rotation.

I haven’t done a great job of talking about Fried enough this Spring Training, but after his performance on Tuesday, he now looks like a lock for the rotation.

Part of the reason I haven’t given him serious consideration is because he’s come out of the bullpen in his last two appearances in Spring Training.

But he got the start on Tuesday against the Nationals — his third appearance against the division rival this Spring — and he put together a great line.

It was yet another game that wasn’t on TV, so I didn’t get a visual, but he pitched five scoreless innings allowing just five hits a walk with seven strikeouts.

He’s now given up just one earned run in 10 innings against the Nationals this Spring with eight strikeouts.

To be fair, the Nationals did not send many starters to play in the game on Tuesday. But that doesn’t take too much away from the results.

I do think Fried could be a dominant reliever, or maybe even an opener for the Atlanta Braves, but history suggests he’s better as a starter.

In nine starts at the Major League level he has a 2.93 ERA in 40 innings with 43 strikeouts. But as a reliever, he has a 4.12 ERA in 19.2 innings with 23 strikeouts.

With the injuries to Mike Foltynewicz and Mike Soroka — and possibly Kevin Gausman — I think Fried deserves to start the year in the rotation.

On a side note, Gausman did pitch in a Minor League game on Tuesday and had some interesting results.

To me, it’s Julio Teheran, Sean Newcomb, Kyle Wright, Max Fried, and then either Touki Toussaint or Bryse Wilson to start the season.

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