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Nats-Mets instant analysis

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Nats-Mets instant analysis

Game in a nutshell: After a marathon game last night, the Nationals hoped to get both a productive start out of Edwin Jackson and some early run support to make manager Davey Johnson's job a little easier in the later innings. They got both. Slumping Adam LaRoche started things off with a three-run homer in the bottom of the first. Michael Morse added two more opposite-field hits, the second of them driving in his first run of the season. And Jackson did his part, overcoming his own throwing error to churn out seven quality innings. And unlike last night, the back end of the Nationals' bullpen took care of business and closed this one out without the need for any antacid. Tyler Clippard's fifth save since taking over pseudo-closer duties ensured the Nats' second straight win over the Mets and extended their lead in the NL East to two games.

Hitting highlight: Throughout his three-week slump (during which he went 6-for-55 and saw his batting average drop nearly 70 points) LaRoche insisted he wouldn't panic. He'd been through much longer slumps before, and he felt he'd learned how best to overcome them: By resisting the urge to try to change something. It's only one game, but whatever he did tonight certainly worked. With his three-run homer in the first, LaRoche gave the Nationals an early lead. He later added a single in the fifth and a sacrifice fly in the seventh. Put it all together, and the veteran first baseman had his best game in quite some time ... and perhaps started off another prolonged hot streak at the plate.

Pitching highlight: Jackson's stuff was dominant right from the outset, as evidenced by his two strikeouts to open the game. And he only surrendered three hits over seven innings. The right-hander still could have used some refinement, though. Two of the Mets' three runs scored as a direct result of self-inflicted wounds: A leadoff walk issued to New York's No. 8 hitter in the third, and then a two-base error on an errant pickoff throw in the fourth. All things considered, though, Jackson turned in a quality start and gave the Nationals exactly what they needed: seven strong innings after having used up their entire bullpen last night.

Key stat: With one swing in the bottom of the first inning (and then one more swing in the bottom of the seventh), LaRoche recorded twice as many RBI (4) as he had notched in his previous nine games combined (2).

Up next: The two teams will have a quick turnaround for Thursday's series finale. Chien-Ming Wang faces knuckleballer R.A. Dickey at 1:05 p.m. at Nationals Park.

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MLB Trade Rumors: Nats reportedly willing to trade Giolito for Miller, but Yankees aren't

MLB Trade Rumors: Nats reportedly willing to trade Giolito for Miller, but Yankees aren't

The Nationals are very interested in acquiring a closer before the trade deadline on Monday.

The hang up has been — as it was with a potential deal for Aroldis Chapman — with the number of pieces they would have to give up in the process.

While keeping all of their top prospects would be ideal, a source close to the MLB's Jon Morosi believes the Nationals would be willing to trade 22-year-old RHP Lucas Giolito to the Yankees for 31-year-old closer Andrew Miller.

RELATED: WHO ARE THE NATS' TOP TRADE DEADLINE TARGETS?

The Yankees had previously insisted that they would be keeping Miller, but with the team looking to stockpile young talent for the future, a one-for-one trade would do them well. But having just dealt Chapman, the Yankees may want more in return, which the Nationals have balked at in recent talks.

But Miller would be an upgrade from the Nationals' current situation.

Jonathan Papelbon has been shaky and inconsistent as of late, and while Shawn Kelley has been capable of spot closing duties, it is clear that the team is deficient in that department. Miller only has nine saves this season, but has played second fiddle to Chapman and his blistering pitch speed. Miller has a 1.39 ERA and has struck out 77 batters this season.

Miller is a good closer, but is he worth giving up a bona fide top prospect in Lucas Giolito?

According to fellow MLB Network reporter Jon Heyman, the Yankees reportedly think it's the other way around.

One thing is for sure, the answer will become clear by the end of the weekend.

RELATED: NATS' INTERESTED IN PIRATES' ALL-STAR CLOSER

 

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Report: Nats talking to Pirates about All-Star closer Melancon

Report: Nats talking to Pirates about All-Star closer Melancon

With Aroldis Chapman now in Chicago, the Nationals have moved on to other options in their search for bullpen help.

They have been linked to Andrew Miller of the Yankees and Wade Davis of the Royals.

On Friday, another veteran name emerged on the rumor mill. That would be All-Star closer Mark Melancon of the Pittsburgh Pirates.

RELATED: NATS' TOP TRADE DEADLINE TARGETS

See this tweet from FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal:

Melancon, like Chapman, would be a rental, as his contract expires after this season. He is a three-time All-Star who finished eighth in NL Cy Young voting in 2015.

Melancon has been brilliant for Pittsburgh this year with a 1.51 ERA and 30 saves in 33 chances. He led the majors last season with 51 saves in 53 tries.

What stands out about this rumor, though, is that the Pirates would even be willing to part with Melancon. They are currently just two games out of an NL wild card spot. Teams in their position do not usually become sellers.

Because of that, one would have to imagine the price would be high for Melancon, as Pittsburgh has no urgency to move him. One could argue they have no reason to in the first place.

Regardless, it's good news for the Nats if the Pirates will listen to offers. Melancon would be a rare commodity on the trade market as a closer with experience and a long track record of proven results.

[RELATED: Papelbon's job as Nats closer now a real question]

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NL East: Marlins trade for two starters, load up for pennant race

NL East: Marlins trade for two starters, load up for pennant race

No one in the NL East has been as aggressive at this year's trade deadline than the Miami Marlins.

Five games back from the Nats in second place, the Marlins already acquired closer Fernando Rodney from the Padres late last month. Now they have pulled off an even bigger deal with San Diego to bring in starters Andrew Cashner and Colin Rea.

The Marlins also received reliever Tayron Guerrero in what amounts to a seven-player deal. Off to the Padres are starter Jarred Cosart, first baseman prospect Josh Naylor, minor league pitcher Luis Castillo, as well as injured reliever Carter Capps, who is currently recovering from Tommy John surgery.

In landing Cashner and Rea, the Marlins get two right-handers who could ultimately upgrade their rotation, but both have been ineffective so far this season. Cashner, 29, is 4-7 with a 4.76 ERA and a 2.23 strikeout-to-walk ratio, the worst of his career. Rea, 26, is 5-5 with a 4.98 ERA and a 1.73 SO/BB rate.

Cashner presents the biggest upside as a guy who just two years ago held a 2.55 ERA across 19 starts. The year before that, in 2013, he posted a 3.09 ERA in 31 outings across 175 innings pitched.

Both pitchers will have to be better than they have been to make this trade a win for the Marlins, but they now have some much-needed depth behind Jose Fernandez in their rotation. They addressed their biggest need in hopes of separating themselves from the Mets and catching up to the Nationals.

ESPN first reported the trade on Friday morning.

[RELATED: Papelbon's job as Nats closer now a real question]

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