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Braves Hoping For Max Effort

Max Fried

Max Fried

Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

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Which Max Fried is going to show up in Game 6?

Fried will take the ball on Tuesday as the Fall Classic moves back to Houston for Game 6 with the Braves nursing a 3-2 series lead. The left-hander will be pitching on an extra day of rest after starting Game 2 last week.

That Game 2 outing didn’t go well, as Fried was touched up for six runs on seven hits and one walk across five-plus innings in the Astros’ 7-2 victory. Fried’s start before that in Game 5 of the NLCS versus the Dodgers was arguably even worse. He was torched for five runs on eight hits and two walks in 4 2/3 frames in that outing.

Prior to that, of course, Fried had been on an outstanding run. He allowed just two runs over 12 innings in his first two starts of the postseason. That’s after he put up a microscopic 1.56 ERA, 0.79 WHIP and 73/11 K/BB ratio across 81 innings covering his final 12 starts of the regular season.

Logic would dictate that Fried is due to bounce back at least to some degree on Tuesday night. That said, no team was tougher against left-handed pitching this season than the Astros, as their wRC+ of 117 was the top mark in the game.

Houston will turn to Luis Garcia on just three days’ rest as they try to extend the series. Garcia offered a mixed bag in his Game 3 outing, giving up just one run but lasting only 3 2/3 innings as he walked four and permitted three hits. The right-hander did throw just 72 pitches in the start, so it shouldn’t be a huge ask for him to come back on short rest.

Manager Dusty Baker will obviously have a quick hook with Garcia if things turn sour, and he will have Cristian Javier and Jake Odorizzi available to soak up innings, if needed. Jose Urquidy had appeared to be in line for the Game 6 start before he was used in an inning of relief in Game 5. Urquidy could start Game 7, if there is one, while the Braves would go with Ian Anderson.

Will the Astros emerge victorious to force a winner-take-all Game 7 on Wednesday, or will the Braves finish this thing off for their first World Series title since 1995? We’ll find out soon enough.

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Padres Bring Aboard Melvin as New Skipper

The surprise was first reported last Thursday, and on Monday the Padres officially announced the hiring of Bob Melvin to be their new manager.

Melvin had been the longest-tenured active manager in Major League Baseball with the Athletics, having managed them for 10 ½ seasons. With 853 victories, he is Oakland’s all-time winningest manager. He’s a three-time Manager of the Year winner and is generally viewed as one of best skippers in the game.

Those facts on the surface make Melvin’s exit shocking, but when you dig deeper, we probably should have seen his departure coming. The feeling is that the A’s could begin a rebuilding process by shedding payroll this winter, and Melvin is one of the highest-paid managers in the game (he was making $4 million per season in Oakland and signed a similar deal with San Diego). The A’s can replace him with a cheaper, likely in-house alternative. Bench coach Ryan Christenson or third base coach Mark Kotsay would make sense.

From Melvin’s perspective, he just turned 60 and undoubtedly didn’t want to go through a rebuild. The California native will get to remain in his home state and is headed to a team with a roster built to contend. The Padres were looking for a manager with experience after going with back-to-back first-time skippers in Andy Green and Jayce Tingler. Melvin certainly fits that bill.

“When you have a roster like that, and you have all the people that give you the resources and the backing to do it, I don’t know that there’s a better destination to be able to come to, so I’m a lucky man,” Melvin said.

Quick Hits: The Diamondbacks announced the hiring of former Rangers manager Jeff Banister as their new bench coach. … The Mets have announced that acting general manager Zack Scott will not be retained. … The Cubs will hire former Rays minor-league hitting coordinator Greg Brown as their next hitting coach, per Patrick Mooney and Sahadev Sharma of The Athletic. … Jeff Passan of ESPN has reported that the Rangers will hire Donnie Ecker as their new bench coach and offensive coordinator. … Alex Speier of the Boston Globe has reported that Red Sox hitting coach Tim Hyers will not return next season and will be replaced by assistant hitting coach Peter Fatse.