Davey Johnson preached consistency all week in Pittsburgh, so why change now? Fresh off a much-needed, 4-2 win over the Pirates, the Nationals manager is sending the exact same lineup out to face the Reds tonight in their series opener in Cincinnati (except for a swap of catchers, with Wilson Ramos back behind the plate).
The Nats' stagnant bats finally exploded last night, with Roger Bernadina, Adam LaRoche and Rick Ankiel all connecting for home runs. And now that they get to spend the weekend in the much-cozier Great American Ball Park, don't be surprised if you see some more power displays. This wouldn't be a bad place for Bryce Harper to club his first career homer.
It also wouldn't be a bad place for Gio Gonzalez to launch the first longball of his career. Call me crazy, but I could see the gregarious left-hander doing it tonight. He's been showing off some serious skills with the bat lately, and something tells me he might just be swinging for the fences when he steps to the plate against Mike Leake...
WASHINGTON NATIONALS at CINCINNATI REDS
Where: Great American Ball Park
Gametime: 7:10 p.m. EDT
TV: MASN2, MLB.tv
Radio: WJFK (106.7 FM), WFED (1500 AM), XM 188
Weather: Clear, 71 degrees, Wind 2 mph in from RF
SS Ian Desmond
LF Roger Bernadina
3B Ryan Zimmerman
1B Adam LaRoche
RF Bryce Harper
2B Danny Espinosa
CF Rick Ankiel
C Wilson Ramos
LHP Gio Gonzalez
SS Zack Cozart
CF Drew Stubbs
1B Joey Votto
2B Brandon Phillips
RF Jay Bruce
3B Scott Rolen
LF Ryan Ludwick
C Devin Mesoraco
RHP Mike Leake
You can always count on the New York Daily News to run an audacious cover. The tabloid delivered again Friday with an image edited to show two of the league's best young hitters in Yankees pinstripes: Nationals right fielder Bryce Harper and Orioles short stop Manny Machado.
"Bats to the Future" is exactly the headline you'd expect, too.
It's hard to tell what's more odious to Washington and Baltimore fans: the image itself or the suggestion that baseball's new collective bargaining agreement makes it easier for the Yankees to poach their stars.
The premise of that argument comes from sources who say the new CBA contains two changes beneficial to New York: reduced revenue sharing burden (due to tweaks in how sharing is calculated, plus a deduction for the cost of building and running Yankee Stadium) and an increased luxury tax threshold.
Without going into number crunching detail, the Daily News explains how the club could afford Harper and/or Machado when they become free agents after the 2018 season.
The article's tone of inevitability, despite its many assumptions, will rankle fans of all 29 other teams. After all, the Yankees aren't the only franchise interested in Harper and Machado.
The Nationals and Orioles will presumably try to keep their stars. But to do that, they may have to fend off potentially historic money from the Bronx.
MORE BASEBALL: Nats let Ben Revere walk
Ben Revere was brought to Washington in the hopes he could solve the centerfield and lead-off issue that plagued them the previous year. After just one year, the Nationals have decided to move on from Revere as they declined to tender him.
The move makes Revere a free agent after a .217/.260/.300 season that fell way below expectations. Revere tied his career-high with two home runs and added 24 RBI while scoring 44 runs.
Stay tuned for more information!