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With recent struggles, Nats pull off trade to acquire bullpen help

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With recent struggles, Nats pull off trade to acquire bullpen help

Seeking an experienced arm to bolster a bullpen that has been made over several times already this season, the Nationals on Thursday acquired right-hander David Carpenter from the Yankees in exchange for minor-league infielder Tony Renda.

The Yankees had designated Carpenter for assignment last week after he posted a 4.82 ERA in 22 appearances, putting 28 men on base in only 18 2/3 innings. But the 29-year-old was a successful and key member of the Braves’ bullpen from 2013-14, with a 2.63 ERA, 1.121 WHIP and 141 strikeouts in 126 2/3 innings.

Carpenter’s struggles this season weren’t attributable to any arm issues — his fastball averaged 95 mph, same as the last two years in Atlanta — but the Yankees reached a point where they couldn’t count on him to serve as their primary setup man in front of late-inning relievers Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller.

“For whatever reason he never got on a roll for us,” manager Joe Girardi told reporters last week after Carpenter was removed from the roster. “At times it was a struggle. It was someone we expected to be a big part of our bullpen. He worked extremely hard, he was great in the clubhouse. It was just unfortunate.”

Carpenter is expected to join the Nationals sometime during this weekend’s series in Milwaukee. Once he arrives, the club will need to remove someone else from their bullpen to make room for him. The Nats already transferred outfielder Nate McLouth from the 15-day DL to the 60-day DL to clear a spot on their 40-man roster for Carpenter.

Renda was the Nationals’ second-round pick in the 2012 draft out of Cal-Berkeley. The 24-year-old second baseman was hitting .267 with a .333 on-base percentage, one homer, 23 RBI and 13 stolen bases for Class AA Harrisburg but was a long-shot to become a long-term contributor in a Nationals infield that currently includes Anthony Rendon, Yunel Escobar, Ian Desmond and Danny Espinosa, with top prospects Wilmer Difo and Trea Turner knocking on the doorstep as well.

MORE NATIONALS: Banged-up Span legs out win for Nats

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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.