- The Washington Times - Friday, July 28, 2017

MLB’s trade deadline is days away, but the Colorado Rockies got started early — and traded for a closer previously linked to the Nationals.

On Thursday, the Rockies sent three prospects to the Philadelphia Phillies in exchange for closer Pat Neshek. Neshek, 36, has a 1.12 ERA and a 0.818 WHIP this season as the Rockies try to shore up their bullpen.

The Nationals and the Rockies begin a three-game series Friday and the Rockies are in the middle of a playoff race for the first time in years. Colorado (58-45) hasn’t made the playoffs since 2009.

Neshek, albeit earlier in the season ,was seen at a potential target for the Nationals to shore up their closer spot. While the Nationals traded for Sean Doolittle and Ryan Madson from the Oakland A’s July 16, it remains to be seen if Washington will make a move for a closer ahead of Monday’s trade deadline.

The Rockies have started to take advantage of the talent on their roster and have a winning record because of it. Nolan Arenado makes a case for being the best third baseman in baseball, even with Manny Machado and Kris Bryant in the league. Charlie Blackmon is also having a great year, hitting .326/.379/.608.

For years, the Rockies‘ pitching at Coors Field has been an obstacle considering the high altitude in Denver. The Rockies still have a worrisome 5.20 ERA at home, but that’s their best home ERA since 2014.

Colorado has also improved drastically on the road. They are 27-26 this season and haven’t finished above .500 on the road since 2009. Last year, the Rockies were 15 games under .500 on the road.

Despite the turnaround, a playoff spot for Colorado isn’t guaranteed. They are 4½ games up in the wild card standings and would have the second wild card spot. If the playoffs started today, they would face the Arizona Diamondbacks in a winner-take all game.

The Nationals have been rolling lately and are 9-3 in their last 12 games. They had a record-setting day with eight home runs in a 15-2 win Thursday against the Milwaukee Brewers.

“Just gotta keep going, keep grinding, keep doing the things we can do to win ballgames,” Bryce Harper said. “We got a tough Colorado team coming in these next three days. Gotta worry about that and try to win these next three and see where we’re at.”

The Nationals are 3-1 against the Rockies this season, last having played them in late April.

Inclement weather

If you’re going to Nationals Park this weekend, keep an eye on the weather. Friday’s forecast has a 90 percent chance of rain, and Saturday’s game has a 40 percent chance, according to Weather.com. Sunday’s forecast is 81 degrees and sunny.

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