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Around the NL East: Will the Mets' six-man rotation work?

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Around the NL East: Will the Mets' six-man rotation work?

ATLANTA BRAVES

If Nationals fans thought their team's bullpen had issues, take a look at what's going on with the Braves these days. In a recent 10-game road trip, Atlanta relievers allowed 22 earned runs in 22 innings of work, with the most egregious effort coming Wednesday night after a 6-0 Braves lead turned into a 9-8 Diamondbacks win. Ouch. 

Despite all that, they only sit three games back in the division and are (somehow) very much alive as June begins. That probably speaks more to the weakness of the division than anything else, but if the retooling Braves were to suddenly get hot over the next month, it wouldn't be a huge surprise if they were buyers at the trade deadline. 

MIAMI MARLINS 

Maybe the Marlins aren't as much of a disaster as we originally thought. While they're still fighting with the Phillies to see who will finish in last place, they've been able to tread water recently with Dan Jennings at the helm. The Fish are 5-5 over their last 10 games and seemed to have slowly worked out of their May funk.  

One of the main reasons for that, as is usually the case, is Giancarlo Stanton has started to heat up again. Over his last nine games, he has hit five homers to raise his season total to 17. He's hitting just .231, but he leads the majors in RBI (46). If anyone in the NL is a major threat to challenge Bryce Harper's season totals, it's undoubtedly Stanton. 

NEW YORK METS 

It was a possibility for a few weeks, and now it's finally a reality: The Mets are implementing a six-man starting rotation, inserting righty Dillon Gee into the mix after he returned from the disabled list Wednesday. 

The question is, why are they doing this? Well, on the surface, the strategy seems to makes sense. It helps limit innings for youngsters like Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard, but also keeps 42-year-old Bartolo Colon fresh and doesn't overwork Matt Harvey, who recently came off of Tommy John rehab. Starting pitching is clearly the Mets' biggest asset, so they might as well protect it as best they can -- not only for a potential playoff chase this year, but for 2016 and beyond. 

PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES 

The last-place Phillies got a scare Wednesday night, as it appeared lefty ace Cole Hamels left the game in Cincinnati with injury. As it turned out, he was fine, keeping in tact what Philly fans hope is the team's biggest trade chip over the next month or so. After a tough start to the season, Hamels has rebounded big time, posting a 1.83 ERA over his last six outings. If he keeps this up (and stays healthy) over the next six weeks, he'll undoubtedly be pitching in a different uniform come late July. 

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Soto, Harper homer in Nats' win over Padres

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USA TODAY Sports Images

Soto, Harper homer in Nats' win over Padres

WASHINGTON -- Juan Soto, the youngest player in the majors at 19, hit a three-run homer in his first career start as the Washington Nationals defeated the San Diego Padres 10-2 on Monday.

Mark Reynolds had two solo home runs for the Nationals, who snapped a three-game losing streak. Bryce Harper had a homer and an RBI double.

Soto's drive highlighted a five-run second inning for Washington. The promising outfielder, who played for three minor league teams this season, hit the first pitch from Robbie Erlin (1-3) over the Nationals bullpen in left-center field. Soto also singled.

Soto's homer traveled an estimated 442 feet at Nationals Park. He earned a standing ovation from the crowd and the teenager responded by taking a curtain call. Per Baseball-Reference.com, Soto became the first teenager to hit a home run in a major league game since Harper on Sept. 30, 2012.

Called up to Washington on Sunday, Soto became the first 19-year-old to make his major league debut since Dodgers pitcher Julio Urias in 2016. He entered that game in the eighth inning as a pinch-hitter and struck out.

Washington's starting left fielder began the season at Class A Hagerstown. He hit a combined .362 with 14 homers and 52 RBIs in his three minor league stops.

Gio Gonzalez (5-2) allowed two runs and two hits in seven innings.

San Diego's Franmil Reyes, playing in his seventh career game, also hit his first career home run.

Trea Turner hit a pair of RBI doubles for Washington. Reynolds had three hits.

Erlin surrendered six runs and seven hits over four innings in his third start of the season. San Diego had won three in a row.

Reyes connected for a two-run homer in the fourth inning, but the Padres' lineup generated little else against Gonzalez, who allowed one run over six innings in a no-decision at San Diego on May 9.

2018 MLB POWER RANKINGS AND OTHER NATS NEWS:

- Rankings Update: Where does your team fall?
- Cause For Concern?: How worried should Nats fans be?
- Very Persuasive: How Rizzo convinced Reynolds to come to D.C.

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Juan Soto crushes a homer in the first at-bat of his first-ever start

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@MLB

Juan Soto crushes a homer in the first at-bat of his first-ever start

Juan Soto, the highly-regarded 19-year-old Nationals' prospect, got his first major league start of his career tonight. 

How did it go, you ask? Surely it would take Soto - who was in Single-A less than two weeks ago - some time to adjust? 

What were you doing at 19??

2018 MLB POWER RANKINGS AND OTHER NATS NEWS:

- Rankings Update: Where does your team fall?
- Cause For Concern?: How worried should Nats fans be?
- Very Persuasive: How Rizzo convinced Reynolds to come to D.C.