Braves welcome back Max Fried to face Friars

Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

When the San Diego Padres departed Atlanta on Easter Sunday, they were riding a high, having taken three of four games in the Braves’ first home series of the season.

Since then, however, the Padres are 2-5 and have scored three runs or fewer in each of the losses — twice getting shut out. The Braves, meanwhile, have gone 6-0 and swept the Royals before jumping the jet for San Diego.

There is a bit of an asterisk. The Padres played the Mets and Brewers while the Braves were taming the Reds and Royals with a day off in between.

Atlanta has more momentum as Opening Day starter Max Fried (0-0, 2.70) is back from the injured list for Monday’s series opener. Fried hasn’t pitched since leaving the first game of the season with a hamstring strain in the fourth inning.

“Disappointing,” was the first word out of Bob Melvin’s mouth Sunday afternoon after the manager’s Padres were shut out by the Milwaukee Brewers 1-0 to lose for a third time in four games at home.

Things are not going the way the Padres or their fans expected in the early part of the season.

Juan Soto is hitting .172. Manny Machado has one homer and seven RBIs after 17 games. Fernando Tatis Jr. doesn’t return from his PED suspension until Thursday. And Joe Musgrove is still on the injured list.

The Padres will open the series Monday with left-hander Ryan Weathers (1-0, 2.70 ERA), who normally would be No. 7 on the rotation depth chart. But in addition to their other problems, the Padres are at game No. 12 in a run of 18 straight games without a scheduled day off.

The Braves have regained their momentum, and Fried takes the mound against a team batting just .239 against lefties this season.

“After a solid start, we didn’t play as well as we needed to when we came home to play the Padres,” said Braves manager Brian Snitker, whose ballclub is 11-1 against everyone else on their schedule thus far.

Snitker said Fried, who was second in the NL Cy Young Award voting last season with a 14-7 record, is under no physical restrictions on Monday. Fried is 2-0 with 17 strikeouts in 22 innings against the team that drafted him in 2012 — San Diego — in his career.

As for the Padres, they have played before eight home sellouts and are averaging 42,034 fans for their first 10 home games. And their record at home: 4-6.

The Padres are 2-0 in Weathers’ first two starts. His win came in New York against the Mets in his most recent start on April 11. He held the Mets to one run on three hits and two walks over five innings. Over his first two outings, the former first-round pick has given up three runs on eight hits and five strikeouts in 10 innings.

Weathers is making something of a comeback at the age of 23. After making 30 major league appearances (18 starts) as a 21-year-old in 2021, Weathers made one spot start in all of 2022.

“He came to spring training this year with a different attitude,” said Melvin. “Nothing was promised him. We talk about his demeanor and coming to spring training and earning his keep and fighting for everything. I think it showed up in his last start against the Mets.

“He’s got a good fastball. He’s been working on his off-speed stuff which is important to him. I’d like to see maybe a little more consistency in the zone.”

–Field Level Media

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