Leading a tight NL East race and down a key infielder, the Washington Nationals were buyers at the non-waiver trade deadline in hopes of improving their chances for a second division title in three years.
The last-place Philadelphia Phillies appeared to be obvious sellers but instead stood pat.
Asdrubal Cabrera joins his new club as Doug Fister takes the mound for Washington looking to win a fifth straight start Friday night against the visiting Phillies.
The Nationals (58-48) have a 1 1/2-game lead over Atlanta in the East despite third baseman Ryan Zimmerman having played only 53 games due to various injuries. Out since July 23 with a strained right hamstring, Zimmerman is expected to miss at least another two weeks and possibly the rest of the regular season.
That prompted Washington to acquire Cabrera, a two-time All-Star shortstop with Cleveland, for young infielder Zach Walters prior to Thursday’s deadline. Cabrera also has some experience at second base, where he’ll play with the Nationals.
Cabrera is hitting .246, though he’s known more for his defense. He confirmed he would be in Washington for this contest.
"He’s been in the playoffs before. He’s been through pennant races," general manager Mike Rizzo said. "He’s a terrific two-way player. He’s a great defensive middle infielder."
Most of Philadelphia’s roster figured to be on the trading block, but general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. didn’t make a single move despite having a high-priced, underachieving club. The Phillies (48-61) began the season with the majors’ third-highest payroll at just over $180 million, and it seemed as if they would try to shed some of it.
Amaro said he had plenty of conversations but nothing came to fruition.
"(I’m) more surprised there wasn’t more aggressive action," Amaro said. "Our goal all along was to try and improve the club. There really wasn’t a deal to be made that would help us do that."
Amaro may regret not taking any potential offer for Cliff Lee, who left in the third inning Thursday with an elbow injury and is likely done for the season, according to the team’s official website.
Philadelphia still beat Washington 10-4 behind Ben Revere, who tied a career high with four hits and is 10 for 20 over his last four.
"Ben’s just really peppering the ball, squaring up and using the whole field," manager Ryne Sandberg said.
Fister (10-2, 2.69 ERA) will look to slow the Phillies’ offense. He won his fourth consecutive start Monday while giving up three hits in seven scoreless innings of a 4-2 victory over Cincinnati. He’s allowed three runs or fewer in his last six, going 5-0 with a 2.21 ERA.
The right-hander will be making his first start at Nationals Park since July 2. He’s won all five of his home starts with a 2.31 ERA and beat Philadelphia there 4-2 on June 5 after giving up two runs in seven innings.
Fister’s only other start against the Phillies was a win with Detroit on July 26, 2013, when he gave up an unearned run and three hits in eight innings of a 2-1 victory.
He’ll be opposed by Roberto Hernandez, who also has pitched well recently.
Hernandez (5-8, 3.94) gave up two runs in seven innings of Monday’s 4-2 win over Arizona, improving to 2-0 with a 2.61 ERA over his last three starts. He’s held opponents to a .167 average in that stretch.
The right-hander pitched a gem to defeat the Nationals on May 4, giving up four hits in 7 1-3 innings of a 1-0 victory.
Monday marked the first time in 13 starts that Hernandez did not walk a batter, though his 4.30 walks per nine innings remains the most in the majors.