Johnson has 'unfinished business' with Nats


Johnson has 'unfinished business' with Nats

Many expect Davey Johnson to be back with the Nationals next season for a variety of reasons. He is still under contract, seemed to have a lot of fun with the 2012 club, and has dropped several hints along the way about planning for “next year.”

But on Tuesday he may have dropped his clearest hint yet in an article with The Washington Post. While looking back to the team’s stunning loss in Game 5 to the Cardinals, Johnson told The Post that if things had gone differently he may have walked away.

“If we’d have won a World Series, I might have pulled a [Tony] LaRussa,” he said.

LaRussa won the World Series in 2011 with the St. Louis Cardinals and decided to retire just three days later.

Johnson explained how the storybook ending of winning a World Series and calling it a career had been in his mind, and with the loss he may need another shot at a championship.

“Is there some unfinished business? Yeah, there’s some unfinished business,” he said.

Johnson says the decision is in the hands of ownership and basically said he wants to be back. The Nationals likely won’t comment on the issue until after the World Series ends later this month, but technically since he is under contract the bigger news would be if he stepped down.

Johnson is considered by many to have a decent case for the Hall of Fame and his success with the Nationals could put him over the top. He is now just the second manager to take four different MLB franchises to the playoffs and has won three World Series in his career, two as a player and one while managing the 1986 New York Mets.

Johnson came out of retirement in the middle of the 2011 season to coach the Nationals and now holds a 138-107 mark with the team. He led Washington to 98 wins in 2012 and their first N.L. East division championship.

Bryce Harper named NL player of the month for April


Bryce Harper named NL player of the month for April

Bryce Harper's hot start to the 2016 season has earned him the NL player of the month award for the month of April.

The Nats slugger saw his batting average dip to .286 by month's end, but finished April with nine homers, 24 RBI and six steals. Harper eclipsed the 100 career homers mark on April 14 and at one point hit a home run in four consecutive games. 

Other highlights from Harper's April include an eight game RBI steak, a six game streak of hitting home runs at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia, Harper's first career pinch-hit homer and his first two career grand slams. His first grand slam was on career homer No. 100.

The reigning NL MVP, Harper has won NL player of the month one other time in his career, in May of 2015. Max Scherzer also won the NL pitcher of the month award twice last season, in May and June.

Harper, 23, is batting .273/.390/.679 this season in 24 games. He was the co-NL player of the week for April 11-17 with Nolan Arenado of the Rockies.

Manny Machado of the Baltimore Orioles won the AL player of the month award for April.

Let go by Nats in spring, lefty Sean Burnett lands in NL East


Let go by Nats in spring, lefty Sean Burnett lands in NL East

The Nationals had some tough choices to make at the end of 2016 spring training and not keeping lefty reliever Sean Burnett on their final 25-man roster was one of them. 

Burnett tossed nine scoreless appearances this spring after returning from his second Tommy John surgery, but just barely missed out on cracking the Nats' bullpen. He opted out of his contract on April 1 and ended up signing with the L.A. Dodgers. Well, that didn't work out and now Burnett has found a new deal in the NL East division with the Atlanta Braves, according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution.

Burnett hasn't appeared in the majors since 2014, but has pitched well both in spring and in the minors in 2016. He followed up his impressive camp with the Nats by holding a 2.35 ERA in seven outings with the Dodgers' Triple-A affiliate in Oklahoma City.

Burnett is joining MLB's worst team in the Atlanta Braves. That should increase his odds of returning to the majors, given they aren't exactly overflowing with major league depth.

Burnett's MLB comeback isn't quite complete, but if he does make the majors again, he could face his former team, the Nats, often as part of the NL East.

State of the Nats: Revere close, Royals up next


State of the Nats: Revere close, Royals up next

Team Record: 17-7

Top storylines

Revere on his way back - Ben Revere played in his third minor league rehab assignment game on Sunday and went 0-for-3 with a steal, as he continues to work his way back from a right oblique strain. He is now 2-for-8 with a run, RBI, walk and one steal with Triple-A Syracuse. Manager Dusty Baker didn't specify an exact amount of games he wants Revere to play, but he did outline a plan to work Revere up from five innings to seven and then nine. He played seven on Sunday, so it appears he is getting very close to the final stage of his rehab assignment. Baker highlighted the Cubs series as an ideal time to bring him back. The Nats play at Chicago on Thursday through Sunday. It looks like Revere will be with the team by the end of this week.

Some stats that may interest you - In doing research for my Monday morning story on how many pitches Nationals starters are throwing, I encountered a few stats that didn't make article but are probably worth sharing. Some involve the pitchers and some involve other members of the team. Here are a few that are noteworthy...

--Ryan Zimmerman has the 13th highest average exit velocity in the majors this season. He's hitting the ball harder than Bryce Harper and Giancarlo Stanton, yet he's only hitting .219 and slugging .301.
--The Nationals are the fourth-best team in baseball at preventing steals this season, having only allowed six through 24 games.
--Stephen Strasburg is eighth in baseball in pitches per inning with 14.2. Gio Gonzalez is 35th at 15.5. Both have been extra efficient this season.
--Joe Ross has been getting very good run support during his starts, while Tanner Roark has not. Here is the average run support for each starter and where that ranks among 104 qualified MLB pitchers:

Joe Ross - 5.50 - 14th
Stephen Strasburg - 5.40 - 15th
Max Scherzer - 3.67 - 57th
Gio Gonzalez - 3.00 - 78th
Tanner Roark - 2.00 - 98th

Royals up next - The Nationals just completed an impressive series sweep of the St. Louis Cardinals, but there is little time to rest and enjoy the victory. Up next are the defending champion Kansas City Royals in a three-game road series. Like the Cardinals, the Royals have been off to a somewhat slow start this season. They enter their series against Washington at 13-11, good enough for only third place in the AL Central. The Royals are, however, very good at home this season with an 8-3 mark. What has held the Royals back this season has been their offense. They place 27th in baseball in runs scored this year after ranking seventh in 2015. As far as pitching goes, the Royals are seventh in team ERA, but have issued the fifth-most walks of any club. The Royals have lost five of their last six games and have only scored 1.83 runs per game during that stretch.

NL East Standings

Offensive game of the week: Jayson Werth 4/30 vs. Cardinals - 2-for-3, HR, 4 RBI, R

Pitching line of the week: Max Scherzer 5/1 vs. Cardinals - 7.0 IP, 0 ER, 4 H, 9 SO, 0 BB, 105 pitches (73 strikes)

Quote of the Week 

"If the guys play that you really want to play with, then definitely I'll play. But if we're not going to have the opportunity to win, then I don't want to play. If we do that, then I'm definitely in. If not, I probably won't do it."

- Bryce Harper on the 2017 World Baseball Classic

Tweet (or Instagram) of the Week

Road Ahead

Mon. – 8:15 p.m. at Kansas City Royas (Gonzalez vs. Volquez)
Tue. - 8:15 p.m. at Kansas City Royas (Roark vs. Young)
Wed. – 2:15 p.m. at Kansas City Royas (Strasburg vs. Medlen)
Thu. – 8:05 p.m. at Chicago Cubs (Ross vs. Hendricks)
Fri. – 2:20 p.m. at Chicago Cubs (Scherzer vs. Lackey)
Sat. – 4:05 p.m. at Chicago Cubs (Gonzalez vs. Hammel)
Sun. – 2:20 p.m. at Chicago Cubs (Roark vs. Arrieta)