Brad Brach trade another hurdle for Nats

July 30, 2018 GMT

BALTIMORE The Orioles made a trade after Sunday’s game that could have a bearing on whether the Washington Nationals make the playoffs this year or not.

Brad Brach, a veteran right-handed reliever, was dealt to the Atlanta Braves by the Orioles for International Signing Bonus Slot Money.

“He gets to go to a club that is in the pennant race with young players,” Orioles general manager Dan Duquette said Sunday of Brach. “He can add a good veteran presence.”

The youthful, upstart Braves are 55-47 after a 4-1 win Sunday against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Atlanta is 1.5 games back of the first-place Philadelphia Phillies (58-47), who lost 4-0on Sunday to the Cincinnati Reds.

The third-place Nationals (52-53) trail the Phillies by six games in the National League East.

Washington, which lost 5-0 on Sunday at Miami, has not won back-to-back series since May. The Nationals begin a two-game series at home Tuesday with the New York Mets after splitting four games in Miami.

The Orioles are in a rebuilding mode, after trading all-star shortstop Manny Machado to the Los Angeles Dodgers and former closer Zach Britton to the New York Yankees earlier this month.

Brach, 32, was 1-2 with 11 saves and an ERA of 4.85 in 42 games this year for the Orioles. But in his tenure with the Birds, he had an ERA of 2.99 and 32 saves and a record of 27-15.

The New Jersey native aided the Orioles postseason teams earlier this decade under manager Buck Showalter.

“He was a key part of it,” said Duquette, who added Brach developed a split-finger fastball while in Baltimore.

He joins an Atlanta bullpen that has an ERA of 4.25, which is 11th out of 15 teams in the National League. The Washington bullpen is fourth with an ERA of 3.58 after a rough start.

The Braves bullpen has 23 saves, the second-lowest in the league.

The MLB non-waiver trade deadline is Tuesday at 4 p.m.

Washington was a preseason favorite in the National League East and now must decide to be buyers, sellers or stand pat for the rest of the way.

The Nationals have won the past two division titles and won the National League East by 20 games last season. But injuries and subpar performances by several veterans have undermined the rookie season for manager Dave Martinez.