Washington Nationals: Our second half preview with MASN’s Byron Kerr

LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 06: Bryce Harper
LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 06: Bryce Harper /

This week, Ron Juckett and Ricky Keeler had the opportunity to discuss the Washington Nationals’ second half with MASN’s Byron Kerr.

District on Deck, FanSided’s Washington Nationals site, had the privilege of speaking to MASN reporter Byron Kerr on Thursday. In a wide-ranging conversation, Kerr shared his thoughts on several topics including his takeaways from the first half, various injury updates, and x-factors for the second half.

When asked for his biggest takeaway from the first half, he brought up the Nats’ potent offense. Kerr’s biggest surprise has also come from the offense; he has been very surprised by how powerful the offense has been and how Ryan Zimmerman has been able to bounce back after under-performing for several seasons.

Gio Gonzalez also put together a tremendous first half after under-performing a bit. Kerr stated that he was impressed with Gonzalez’s pace this year, which he attributed to off-season addition Matt Wieters. Kerr also brought up the fact that Gonzalez has been excellent with runners in scoring position this year. Opponents have hit just .129 against him with runners in scoring position, which is a huge improvement over his career average of .238.

In his first injury update, Kerr broke some incredible news. He stated that Trea Turner could return from his fractured wrist as early as the first couple weeks of August. Turner suffered the injury on June 29, so that would be an extremely quick recovery. If he is able to return within the next month or so, that would be a phenomenal break for the Nats.

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Unfortunately, not all of Kerr’s injury updates were encouraging. He said that he is worried about Michael Taylor, who is currently on the disabled list due to an oblique strain. Oblique injuries have proven to be difficult to recover from, which Nats fans know well after watching Ben Revere struggle last season.

Kerr is also concerned about Koda Glover. He has the potential to be an elite closer when healthy, but has battled injuries throughout most of his major league career. This DL stint has been especially concerning; he was originally placed on the DL due to back issues, but it was later revealed that he’s also dealing with inflammation in his rotator cuff and two strains in his shoulder.

Some good news could be on the way, as Glover could possibly be progressing towards a return. Kerr pointed out that Glover could possibly make progress throughout the All-Star Break and long road trip to begin the second half.

Sticking with the bullpen, Kerr predicts that Shawn Kelley could possibly be activated to replace Sammy Solis, who was recently optioned to AAA. Kerr has noticed that Kelley has been in the clubhouse and has appeared comfortable.

If Kelley returns and pitches like he is capable, he could join Blake Treinen, Matt Albers, and Enny Romero as solid eighth inning options. However, they will still be without a dominant closer, as Kerr pointed out.

While discussing the minor leagues, Kerr predicted that Erick Fedde will debut before September. Although he was temporarily moved to the bullpen, Kerr views him as a starter long-term. He believes that the move to the bullpen was a backup plan in the case that the bullpen completely fell apart.

When asked if Victor Robles is untouchable, Kerr wasn’t sure. He said that he believes Robles was untouchable last season, but the probability of him being traded has possibly risen this year with the current bullpen situation.

Regarding possibly using Robles as a trade chip, Kerr brought up a good point. With the recent Jose Quintana trade, the White Sox outstanding farm system has become even deeper. Therefore, the price tag on David Robertson, whom the Nats have long been linked to, may have dropped a bit.

His further explanation, along with the whole interview, are here:

Finally, Kerr states that his x-factors for the second half are Turner and Stephen Strasburg. When and how Turner returns will be interesting to keep an eye on, as he has the potential to transform any lineup. Strasburg will also be an extremely important piece of the puzzle, as the Nats need him to pitch well down the stretch and lead them on a deep postseason run.

Next: Top five storylines heading into the second half

A huge thanks to Kerr for his time; we are truly appreciative of him bringing his insights to our show and we all look forward to watching the Nationals throughout the second half.