Braves' Max Fried set to return vs. red-hot Cubs

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May 5, 2023; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Max Fried (54) throws against the Baltimore Orioles in the first inning at Truist Park.
May 5, 2023; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Max Fried (54) throws against the Baltimore Orioles in the first inning at Truist Park.
Image: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Atlanta's rotation will receive a long-awaited boost on Friday when the Braves begin a three-game road series against the Chicago Cubs

After missing nearly three months with a strained left forearm, left-hander Max Fried (2-1, 2.08 ERA) is set to return. He began his minor league rehab stint with an outing for Class-A Rome before giving up five runs over nine innings in three games for Triple-A Gwinnett


"I feel like I've been able to get a really good test of how my pitches are working in the zone against guys," Fried said. "Now, I'm just going to go out there and trust it at Wrigley. I'll definitely have some butterflies and jitters before I go out there.

Fried, 29, is 4-0 with a stellar 1.57 ERA in four career starts against the Cubs

Last season's National League Cy Young Award runner-up is rejoining a Braves team that boasts the best record in baseball. Atlanta has won five of its past six games, including a 12-5 victory over the visiting Los Angeles Angels on Wednesday


Ronald Acuna Jr., Austin Riley and Matt Olson homered in the win for the Braves, who lead the majors with 206 long balls

The Braves will look to slow down the Cubs, who are 13-3 in their past 16 games and have won five straight series. Chicago beat the Cincinnati Reds 5-3 on Thursday for its third straight win

The Cubs' surge has been led by center fielder Cody Bellinger, who is hitting .357 (55-for-154) with nine homers and 30 RBIs in his past 41 games

"I've always been a fan of his from afar, playing against him for the last five or six years," Cubs shortstop Dansby Swanson said. "To be able to witness it every day, it's awesome. He's just a guy that has a lot of confidence and a lot of belief and you couple that with the baseball ability that he has and it's fun to watch.


The weekend series will mark Swanson's first games against his former team since signing with the Cubs as a free agent during the offseason. Swanson played his first seven seasons with Atlanta and was a key part of the team's 2021 World Series championship

"He's very special to this organization," Braves manager Brian Snitker said. "He's a big reason we've had all this success. It will be good to see him. I just hope he doesn't play the former team card.


Chicago will send right-hander Kyle Hendricks (4-5, 3.49 ERA) to the mound in the series opener. He allowed three runs over seven innings in a 3-0 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals on Sunday

"I thought I made some pretty good pitches," Hendricks said. "Sometimes you've just got to tip your cap.


Hendricks, 33, posted a 4.29 ERA in six outings last month after recording a stellar 2.51 mark over five starts in June

Marcell Ozuna is 14-for-37 (.378) with three homers against Hendricks, who is 1-4 with a 6.81 ERA in eight career games (seven starts) vs. Atlanta


--Field Level Medi