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Insider

Phillies get value sending Papelbon to Nationals

The Washington Nationals get a minor bullpen boost with the acquisition of Philadelphia Phillies right-hander Jonathan Papelbon -- who gets points for being a "proven closer" but is actually just a competent above-average reliever -- at the cost of a solid starting pitching prospect who's close to the majors but is also a guy without huge upside.

Papelbon has remade himself even as his fastball has lost almost 4 mph since his peak years in Boston. He's working up in the zone with the four-seamer and down with the splitter, and also incorporating a slider to the greatest extent of his career. The splitter has been less effective this year against lefties, although it's too small a sample to condemn him to right-handed specialist duty; it's just something to be wary of.