Mar 14, 2014; Lakeland, FL, USA; Washington Nationals left fielder Nate McLouth (15) steals second base underneath the tag of Detroit Tigers second baseman Ian Kinsler (3) in the fourth inning of a spring training exhibition game at Joker Marchant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: David Manning-USA TODAY Sports

District Daily: 3/15

Start off your weekend with some great Washington Nationals articles from around the web:

Confident Johansen dedicated to joining Nats

(Bill Ladson,

LAKELAND, Fla. — Despite what his numbers said while he was in college, Nationals right-hander Jake Johansen is confident in his abilities.

As long as he does the little things right, Johansen believes he will be in the Nationals’ rotation some day. Furthermore, Johansen has not ruled out becoming a closer in the future.

“I see myself as a starter. I’d like to stay a starter as long as possible,” Johansen said. “It’s whatever I can do to help the ballclub win. So if that’s the starting rotation role, then I’ll be more ecstatic to do that. If it’s a closing role, I’m more than willing to do that as well.”

Johansen, 23, is the first to tell you that he needs to improve his skills before he even thinks about going to the big leagues. Before the team’s accelerated camp for prospects came to an end recently, there was Johansen improving his delivery and secondary pitches — curveball, slider and a changeup. He wants to develop a sidearm delivery and throw across his body a little bit.

“Getting there a few weeks earlier made a huge difference,” Johansen said about the accelerated camp. “It gets your mindset ready and helps you physically prepare for the grind of the season. I made a few adjustments in my delivery. … I feel really comfortable going into the season.” Read full article here.

Do the Nationals have the easiest schedule in baseball?

(James Wagner, Washington Post)

Quantifying strength of schedule, especially two and a half weeks before the season even starts, is no easy task. But statistical Web site took a recent stab at it. It’s an understandably flawed exercise, but it highlighted once again something that is already apparent: the National League East is one of the weakness divisions in baseball.

Last week, published a brief study of opponents’ project WAR (wins above replacement). They took their projected WAR for each team and calculated the average WAR for each team’s opponents. Based on the projected 2014 divisional WAR, the divisions with the highest projected WAR were, in this descending order: AL East, NL West, AL West, AL Central, NL Central and, in last place, the NL East.

Broken down even further, the Orioles have the toughest schedule in baseball next season, based on an average projected opponent WAR of 35.6 The lowest in baseball is the Nationals, who have an average projected opponent WAR of 30.4… Read full article here.

Handicapping the Washington Nationals’ Fifth Starter Battle After a Full Month of Spring Training

(Nick Comando, Rant Sports)

As the Washington Nationals‘ Spring Training officially hits one month, every candidate for the fifth spot in their rotation has appeared in games. Ross Detwiler, who was considered the pre-spring front-runner, has started all three games he has appeared in. He has pitched to a 6.43 ERA in his seven innings pitched and has allowed 14 hits and five earned runs in those starts. Taylor Jordan has pitched slightly better, as he has a 3.86 ERA in his appearances with nine hits and three earned runs in seven innings pitched. Tanner Roark is right between the two, as he has a 4.50 ERA and has allowed nine hits and four earned runs in his appearances.

As every informed baseball fan knows, Spring Training statistics can be very misleading. For the lion’s share of their appearances, pitchers are either building up arm strength or tinkering with things. It is very rare to see a starter or reliever go full effort in any of their spring appearances unless it is their last appearance before the season starts. Read full article here.

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