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Braves trade for pitching help

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Braves trade for pitching help

The Braves may have lost out on Ryan Dempster, but on Monday they were able to acquire another Chicago Cubs starting pitcher in lefty Paul Maholm. Maholm heads to Atlanta along with outfielder Reed Johnson in exchange for top pitching prospect Arodys Vizcaino and right-hander Jaye Chapman.

Maholm, 30, joins the Braves rotation having gone 9-6 with a 3.74 ERA in 20 starts for Chicago this season. He is an eight-year veteran with his seven other seasons spent with the Pittsburgh Pirates. His career ERA is 4.30, but last year he posted a 3.66 clip and has continued that improvement into this season.

Johnson is a utility player who has appeared in 76 games this season for the Cubs. He holds a .302 average with three home runs and 16 RBI.

Vizcaino leaves Atlanta after undergoing Tommy John surgery earlier this year. He was part of the teams trio of blue chip pitching prospects, but due to injury wasnt able to produce for the Braves.

Maholm should slot into the teams rotation quickly as they have seen frustrating results from several starters this year. Jair Jurrjens continues to struggle with a 7.04 ERA in ten starts and Mike Minor has labored with a 5.18 ERA through 113.0 innings this season.

The Braves are in second place in the N.L. East behind the Nationals, but have won six straight games. Their pitching has improved of late with five straight games allowing two runs or less to their opponents. Still, with the absence of ace Brandon Beachy, the Braves have been looking for pitching help for the pennant race and Maholm may help stabilize their rotation.

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Nats not ready to reveal playoff rotation, how Gio Gonzalez may fit in

Nats not ready to reveal playoff rotation, how Gio Gonzalez may fit in

Just because the Los Angeles Dodgers have released their playoff rotation plans for the NL Division Series, doesn't mean the Nationals are ready to do the same.

Manager Dusty Baker remained coy about who will start for the Nats opposite Clayton Kershaw, Rich Hill and Kenta Maeda. He doesn't see any reason to do so until he absolutely has to.

"Just because they did it doesn't mean we've gotta do it. Hey man, they can do what they want to do. I don't really see a point in releasing it so early," he said. "That's nobody's business right now. We'll tell you when we tell you."

[RELATED: Dodgers set rotation for playoff series against Nationals]

Okay, fair enough. We already know who will be pitching Game 1, barring something extraordinary. Max Scherzer will be getting the ball for that one. The same for Tanner Roark in Game 2.

Game 3 is where it gets interesting, though lefty Gio Gonzalez is emerging as the favorite there. GM Mike Rizzo dropped that hint on 106.7 The Fan on Wednesday morning. That would leave Joe Ross for Game 4, unless the Nats opt to pitch Scherzer on short rest, which they have indicated they don't want to do.

"It's probably no secret anyways, other than when you get past No. 2 and 3," Baker said. "Gio's penciled in anyway."

So, when will the Nationals announce their rotation? Technically, they can wait until next week, as playoff rosters don't have to be revealed until the morning of Game 1.

"We haven't talked about it yet. We have to talk about it as a staff before we let you guys know. We'll probably do that on Friday, then we'll let you know," Baker said.

Baker circled back to Gonzalez on Wednesday with the lefty set to make his final regular season start later that night. Gonzalez has reverted back to inconsistency with 14 earned runs allowed in 19 1/3 innings across his last four starts. That followed a stretch of 11 outings from the beginning of July through August where he had a 3.16 ERA.

Baker is preferring to look at Gonzalez with glass half-full optimism as the team enters the postseason.

"Let's not expect bad out of Gio. I'm expecting good out of Gio. I told him when the season started that he was the main key to this ballclub. I didn't know he would be the main key at this point in time coming into these playoffs, but Gio can put him and us on the map with the way he performs," he said.

Gonzalez does have a strong track record against the Dodgers, who happen to feature a lefty-heavy lineup. Gonzalez held them to one run through six innings back in July. And since 2012, he has eight runs in 32 innings against L.A. Certainly, Baker and the Nats would like some more of that.

[RELATED: Podcast: Can Nationals win without Wilson Ramos?]

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Harper and Murphy remain out, as Gio makes final playoff tuneup

Harper and Murphy remain out, as Gio makes final playoff tuneup

Nats (92-65) vs. Diamondbacks (65-92) at Nationals Park

The Nationals have reached their final five games of the regular season, which means each start made by their rotation will be that pitcher's final tuneup for the playoffs. On Wednesday, it's Gio Gonzalez (11-10, 4.51) on the mound making his final start before he likely pitches in Game 3 against the Dodgers. The lefty will be making his 32nd start of the season.

That is, of course, if weather permits. Heavy rain is in the forecast and Wednesday night's game could be affected by it. If Gonzalez can't pitch due to the weather, he will skip his start to attend Jose Fernandez' funeral in Florida.

Bryce Harper (thumb) and Daniel Murphy (buttock) remain out of the Nationals' lineup. Harper could have played, but the Nats want to play it safe on the wet field given what happened to Wilson Ramos on Monday.

First pitch: 7:05 p.m.
TV: MASN2
Radio: 106.7 The Fan
Starting pitchers: Nats - Gio Gonzalez vs. Diamondbacks - Shelby Miller

NATS

2B Trea Turner
CF Ben Revere
3B Anthony Rendon
1B Clint Robinson
LF Jayson Werth
RF Brian Goodwin
SS Danny Espinosa
C Jose Lobaton
LHP Gio Gonzalez

DIAMONDBACKS

2B Jean Segura
SS Chris Owings
1B Paul Goldschmidt
C Welington Castillo
LF Brandon Drury
RF Yasmany Tomas
3B Jake Lamb
CF Mitch Haniger
RHP Shelby Miller

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