Na­tion­als ac­quire Twins closer Kint­zler with all eyes on Oc­to­ber.

Na­tion­als, Dodgers make trades with fo­cus on each other

The Washington Times Daily - - FRONT PAGE - BY TODD DYBAS

There was a smile on Yu Darvish’s face 10 min­utes be­fore Mon­day’s Ma­jor League Base­ball non-waiver trade dead­line. He stood tall at his home locker in Texas in a pic­ture posted on so­cial me­dia, not­ing how much time re­mained on the clock un­til 4 p.m.

On the West Coast, other smiles were be­gin­ning to form. News that Darvish had been traded dropped about 25 min­utes af­ter he posted his photo. That he was dealt by the Rangers was a mild sur­prise. That he will pull on Los An­ge­les Dodgers blue for the rest of the sea­son stunned the league and one-upped the Wash­ing­ton Na­tion­als on a day when moves were made for Oc­to­ber.

The Na­tion­als had ac­quired Min­nesota Twins closer Bran­don Kint­zler in ex­change for Dou­ble-A prospect and right-handed pitcher Tyler Wat­son just min­utes prior. Kint­zler is the third re­lief pitcher Wash­ing­ton has traded for since July 16. Its of­fense is the best in the Na­tional League.

Its start­ing ro­ta­tion has a Cy Young can­di­date at the top. The bullpen, how­ever, was des­per­ate for a fix. It re­ceived three op­tions in the last week: Sean Doolit­tle, Ryan Mad­son and now Kint­zler, a 32-year-old who was named an All-Star this sea­son.

But, the Dodgers’ pulling in Darvish will pop­u­late the mar­quee. The four­time All-Star be­comes Los An­ge­les’ No. 2 pitcher be­hind seven-time All-Star and three-time Cy Young Award win­ner Clayton Ker­shaw. Alex Wood (2.38 ERA) and Rich Hill (3.35 ERA) fill out the ro­ta­tion.

The Dodgers also added two bullpen op­tions, Tony Cin­grani and Tony Wat­son, to work in front of uber-closer Ken­ley Jansen. Cin­grani and Wat­son are left­handed. So are Bryce Harper and Daniel Mur­phy. This is not co­in­ci­dence. All of this in an af­ter­noon’s work for the team with the best record in base­ball, which was a whop­ping 43 games over .500 at the start of Mon­day.

Kint­zler is a rental for the Na­tion­als. The right-han­der has 28 saves and a 2.78 ERA this sea­son for Min­nesota. He is not a strike­out pitcher, but op­po­nents have just a .329 slug­ging per­cent­age against him. Kint­zler joins Doolit­tle, Mad­son and Oliver Perez as Wash­ing­ton bullpen op­tions who get left-handed hit­ters out. Left-handed bat­ters hit just .197 against Kint­zler this sea­son, .194 against Mad­son, .037 against Doolit­tle and .204 against Perez. Most of the Dodgers’ hit­ting might re­sides on the left side.

Should Wash­ing­ton face Los An­ge­les in the play­offs this sea­son, it will be much bet­ter pre­pared in the bullpen than it was last sea­son when it lost the Na­tional

League Divi­sion Se­ries to L.A., 3-2.

Not com­ing to Wash­ing­ton is start­ing pitcher Sonny Gray. The Na­tion­als were linked to the Oakland right-han­der dur­ing the ru­mor-mill por­tion of trade dead­line runup. Trad­ing for Gray would have re­quired a high-end prospect be­cause he is in­ex­pen­sive, skilled and un­der team con­trol for two-plus sea­sons. He cost the New York Yan­kees three prospects, in­clud­ing Jorge Ma­teo and Dustin Fowler. Both are top-10 prospects in New York’s or­ga­ni­za­tion. How­ever, Fowler is in­jured. He rup­tured the patel­lar ten­don June 29 in his first ma­jor-league game.

Last sea­son, the Na­tion­als de­cided not to deal high-end prospects Lu­cas Gi­olito and Rey­naldo Lopez at the dead­line. Re­ports sug­gested that left-handed re­liever An­drew Miller, among the top three left­handed re­liev­ers in base­ball, could have been ac­quired for Gi­olito. Miller would have been on the ros­ter not just last sea­son and the 2016 post­sea­son, but also this one, when the Wash­ing­ton bullpen has been a ca­reen­ing mess. Again this sea­son, Wash­ing­ton held onto its ma­jor prospects, like out­fielder Vic­tor Robles, at the dead­line.

The Chicago Cubs did not wait un­til the dead­line to land re­in­force­ments. They pulled in Detroit closer Justin Wil­son and catcher Alex Avila for two prospects ear­lier in the af­ter­noon. Chicago is try­ing to find its mojo a sea­son af­ter end­ing its 108-year World Se­ries drought. It started play Mon­day with a 2 ½-game lead in the Na­tional League Cen­tral Divi­sion thanks to a post-All-Star-break surge. If the play­offs be­gan to­day, Wash­ing­ton would face the Cubs in the divi­sion se­ries.

That Wash­ing­ton will make the play­offs for the fourth time in six sea­sons is in­evitable. It holds a 13-game lead in the woe­ful Na­tional League East Divi­sion. The Mi­ami Mar­lins, who just traded their closer to the New York Mets, are in sec­ond place. The Mets traded one of their key bullpen pitch­ers, Ad­di­son Reed, on Mon­day af­ter deal­ing for Ramos. At­lanta is eight games be­low .500. Philadel­phia’s sea­son has been over for a month.

What re­mains is the jour­ney to Oct. 1. That’s the fi­nal day of the reg­u­lar sea­son. Wash­ing­ton is ex­pect­ing Stephen Stras­burg, Jayson Werth, Michael A. Taylor and Stephen Drew to be healthy by then. Man­ager Dusty Baker will be bal­anc­ing the re­cov­ery of those play­ers with rest for oth­ers and mak­ing sure their record is su­pe­rior to that of the Na­tional League Cen­tral cham­pion. Bar­ring a col­lapse and a surge, the Dodgers will fin­ish with the NL’s best record. Wash­ing­ton wants to be sec­ond. Then the se­ries be­gin, and all sides will de­ploy the tal­ent gath­ered Mon­day with each other in mind.


The Wash­ing­ton Na­tion­als ac­quired Min­nesota Twins closer Bran­don Kint­zler on Tues­day be­fore the trade dead­line. Kint­zler is the third re­lief pitcher ac­quired since July 16.

The Texas Rangers sent pitcher Yu Darvish to the Los An­ge­les Dodgers on Tues­day just be­fore the trade dead­line. The Dodgers also added two bullpen pieces in trades.


The Oakland A’s traded pitcher Sonny Gray to the New York Yan­kees Tues­day.

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