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NL Notes: With Kershaw down and out, Dodgers chase ace

Plus notes on the Nationals offensive explosion and the Rockies bullpen.

MLB: Atlanta Braves at Los Angeles Dodgers Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

The Dodgers, sitting pretty at 71-31 entering Friday’s action, are scary enough as it is.

Now, imagine L.A. strengthening an already dominant starting rotation. That’s right, the rumors are flowing that the Dodgers will try to pick up an ace before Monday’s trade deadline. Sure, Clayton Kershaw is going to be out for some time, but this team is keeping the pedal on the floor. Justin Verlander in Dodger blue, anyone?

Here’s what else is happening around the National League:

Lucas Duda is on the move. The veteran Met is headed to Tampa Bay via a trade with the Rays that went down Thursday. New York gets right-hander Drew Smith in a deal that largely flew under the radar, considering how unproductive Duda was a year ago. However, he’s bounced back this year with 17 homers and a .246 batting average.

The Nationals managed to pack some non-trade-related news into this week’s NL Notes. It’s easy to do that when you hit back-to-back-to-back-to-back home runs, which is exactly what the Nats did in a 15-2 win over the Brewers on Thursday. It was the first such occurrence in MLB since the Dodgers in 2010, and only the eighth time in MLB history that a team has hit four straight dingers. The Nationals’ offensive production has seen a serious uptick since the All-Star Break, and the likelihood of a Nats-Dodgers NLCS seems to grow each day.

The Rockies nailed down some terrific relief-pitching help this week when they went out and traded for Phillies reliever Pat Neshek. The 36-year-old Neshek is enjoying arguably the best season of his career, sporting a cool 1.12 ERA that currently stands as the second best in baseball. It’s a smart move for Colorado as they jockey for playoff position with the Arizona Diamondbacks, who were willing to dump prospects to win now. After seven years out of the playoffs, you can’t really blame them.

Ok, one more trade note! The Giants dealt third baseman Eduardo Nunez to the Red Sox for prospects. The move fills a major void at the hot corner for Boston (Pablo Sandoval hadn’t been working out very well, in case you didn’t already know). Nunez was emotional in his goodbyes to his Giant teammates — I bet you won’t cry looking at these photographs from inside the Giants’ clubhouse.