Davey Johnson was ready to step down as Nationals manager before the team made its late-season playoff push. (Alex Brandon/Associated Press)

The Nationals’ month-long surge has kept alive their postseason chances and made their games relevant. It may have also ensured Manager Davey Johnson remained in the dugout all season long.

If the Nationals had been mathematically eliminated with a significant portion of the season remaining, Johnson said, he would have offered to step down so the Nationals could give bench coach Randy Knorr or third base coach Trent Jewett an effective audition for the job next season.

“I always wanted to stay and give us a chance to win,” Johnson said. “But I’m team-first, organization-first, if we needed more information on in-house managers.”

Saturday night, the Nationals will honor Johnson’s 2 ½-year tenure as the team’s manager in a ceremony before their game against the Marlins. The Nationals announced last winter that Johnson would not return to manage in 2014. Knorr appears to be the leading internal candidate, and Jewett may also garner consideration.

General Manager Mike Rizzo vowed in late July that Johnson would be the Nationals’ manager through the end of the year. But Johnson still would have offered to sit out the last stretch of the season if the Nationals had not surged back to contention by winning 22 of 29 games.

The Nationals enter tonight’s game trailing the Cincinnati Reds by five games in the race for the National League’s second wild card spot. The Reds will begin a series with the Pittsburgh Pirates, who lead the Reds by just a game for second place in the NL Central.