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ATLANTA — Juan Soto’s season has been historic for a
19-year-old and that would normally make the Washington Nationals outfielder a
lock for National League Rookie of the Year.Not in 2018 Allen Craig
, though, with the way 20-year-old outfielder Ronald Acuna
Jr. is performing for the Atlanta Braves.The phenoms will be on the field
together for the last time this season Sunday as the National League
East-leading Braves (83-65) and disappointing defending two-time champion
Nationals (75-74) conclude their three-game series.Article continues below
...“You’re seeing two premium young players in baseball right now,” Nationals
manager Dave Martinez said. “You’ve got to appreciate the way they play the
game. It shows how mature they are at that age.”Acuna was a home run short of
the cycle in his first three at-bats against three-time Cy Young Award winner
Max Scherzer in the series opener Friday night and Soto became the second
youngest player to reach 20 homers in the same game.Soto had his homer streak
snapped at four games in Saturday’s 7-1 victory by the Nationals but extended
his on-base streak to 20 games with a hit and three of Washington’s 14 walks. He
also stole three bases.Soto, who has drawn 74 walks in 103 games, is batting
.304 with 72 runs scored and 63 RBIs. Acuna, who had his first four-hit game
Friday, has a .296 average with 25 homers, 71 runs scored ,
55 RBIs and 14 stolen bases in 97 games.Acuna joined the Braves on April 25 and
Soto was promoted May 19. The only thing that has stopped either since is
Acuna’s monthlong stay on the disabled list because of a knee injury suffered at
the end of May.Acuna, who moved into the leadoff spot after the All-Star break,
and Soto have regularly put on shows when the Braves and Nationals play.Acuna
has batted .424 in 33 at-bats with three home runs, a triple and three doubles,
and six RBIs in seven games against the Nationals.Soto has four homers and nine
RBIs in 12 games versus the Braves while batting .289 with 12 walks.They appear
to have established a mutual admiration society despite their competition for NL
Rookie of the Year.“I’m having fun sharing the field with him,” Acuna said
through a translator.“Everything he does is fun,” said Soto, also through a
translator. “I keep watching him.”Braves second-year left-hander Sean Newcomb
(12-8 ,
3.82 ERA) will try to break a four-game pratfall at SunTrust Park as he opposes
veteran Nationals right-hander Tanner Roark (8-15, 4.37) in the finale of the
1-1 weekend series.Newcomb is 0-3 with 10.70 ERA in his past four home starts,
yielding 21 runs and 33 hits in 17 2/3 innings. But he is coming off a strong
road outing at San Francisco, tossing six innings of one-run ball and not
issuing a walk for the second time in his 47 career starts.Newcomb is 1-1 with a
4.15 ERA in three starts against the Nationals this year.Roark has posted an
8.62 ERA in his past three starts but has had mostly career success against the
Braves.Although he’s 1-2 with a 4.50 ERA in three games (two starts) this
season, Roark is 7-5 with a 3.08 ERA lifetime against Atlanta in 22 games (15
starts).Braves center fielder Ender Inciarte is 12-for-29 with a homer against
Roark,and Nationals third baseman Anthony Rendon is 4-for-9 with two doubles
against Newcomb. The Baltimore Orioles are moving on from Manny Machado after
trading the All-Star shortstop to the Los Angeles Dodgers on Wednesday.The
Dodgers made the deal official.The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal first reported the
prospects involved. Rosenthal also confirmed the Orioles will not be sending
cash considerations to L.A.Diaz is the fourth-ranked prospect in L.A.'s farm
system and the 84th-ranked prospect in baseball, according to
general manager Farhan Zaidi said Machado would play shortstop primarily but
also play some third base when necessary, per Dodgers Insider.It wasn't clear
when Rollie
Fingers Jersey
, or if, the Orioles would decide to trade Machado
before he is eligible for free agency after this season.Jon Heyman reported last
September the Orioles had "no intention" of shopping Machado during the
offseason, though he noted executives from rival organizations felt the team had
virtually no chance to re-sign him.Once the winter meetings began in December,
the tenor changed, with Rosenthal reporting the Orioles asked interested teams
to make offers for Machado.With the Orioles sitting in the American League East
cellar at 28-69, the decision to move Machado was essentially made for them.
That hasn't stopped him putting up an outstanding .315/.387/.575 slash line with
24 homers, though.Given how valuable Machado has been since his MLB debut in
2012, it's not hard to see why the Orioles would want to do everything in their
power to keep him. He ranks seventh among all American League players with 27.7
FanGraphs wins above replacement since 2012.After finishing 75-87 last
season ,
the Orioles were in a dire situation playing in the same division with the
powerhouse New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox. Their problems have gotten
exponentially worse in the first half of 2018.Since the Orioles can't compete
with the Yankees or Red Sox in terms of payroll, they have to build through
their farm system. That's been a weakness for the organization, with few
exceptions like Machado. ESPN's Keith Law ranked Baltimore's system No. 23 in
MLB at the start of 2018.Even though the Orioles will be worse without Machado
on their team for the rest of this season, moving him now allowed them an
opportunity to maximize his value and get the best possible return in a trade to
ensure they can return to contention sooner than they would have if he just
walked for nothing as a free agent.Los Angeles became the logical landing spot
for Machado in May when it was announced that Corey Seager would undergo
season-ending Tommy John surgery.Injuries have been an ongoing problem for the
Dodgers this season, with Clayton Kershaw, Kenta Maeda, Rich Hill, Logan
Forsythe Johnny
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, Pedro Baez, Tony Cingrani and Justin Turner among
those who have spent time on the DL.Chris Taylor has done an admirable job in
Seager's place with a .253/.332/.454 slash line and 11 homers.Just based on
offensive production, Machado represents a significant upgrade for the Dodgers.
His defense since moving to shortstop at the start of 2018 has left a lot to be
desired, ranking last among all qualified players with minus-19 defensive runs
saved, per FanGraphs.The Dodgers are in a tense battle with the Arizona
Diamondbacks, Colorado Rockies and San Francisco Giants in the National League
West, so landing an All-Star talent such as Machado has the potential to put
them over the top.
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