Two weeks after his MLB Network colleague Greg Amsinger described the Nationals as an “enigma” that lacked an “it factor” during an interview with Chad Dukes on 106.7 The Fan, Brian Kenny joined the Junkies on Wednesday to offer his own thoughts on the current state of the team.
Kenny said he expects the Nationals, who have a one-game lead over the Braves in the National League East, to win the division easily, and that Washington remains a complete team despite its abundance of injuries this season.
“Having one guy hurt might make things easier all the way around,” Kenny said before Zimmerman was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a right hamstring strain. “I think the best lineup for the Nationals, and I’m surprised they haven’t done it — and no disrespect to Denard Span, who is kind of league average, offensively, which is good, and defensively he’s above average — but I think the way to go to really empower your young star and make them the best possible team is to put Bryce Harper in center field, put Ryan Zimmerman in left field and then play your defensive infield and let these guy go to town. I think that’s the best way of doing it going forward with Bryce Harper, and it also gets Ryan Zimmerman away from third base, because it’s not like he’s such a disaster there, but you guys know, when you’re playing in a one-week series, when you have one error in a game it’s a disaster. You can’t let that chance happen. The odds of that happening are just too great that he makes a throwing error.”
Harper, of course, ruffled some feathers when he expressed the same opinion about the ideal Nationals lineup upon returning from the disabled list in late June. The question of whether or not Denard Span belongs in the Nationals lineup is a moot point until Zimmerman returns, and the center fielder can probably put it to rest if he continues to hit more like he has in July than April going forward.
“He’s looking out for himself,” Kenny said of Harper’s comments. “Like, is that so terrible? I know like he wasn’t supposed to say that, but he’s looking out for himself and he has to look out for himself. I mean, that whole thing is separate. He was asked that, ‘What’s the best lineup?’ , and he gave it out. I guess in the future he’ll say things like, ‘Aw, shucks, I don’t know, I just let the skip do that,’ and everyone will be happy. But he just actually gave an honest answer. I don’t think he meant to ace anybody out, but he’s right. That is the best lineup to put out there.”
Kenny also offered an opinion on Stephen Strasburg, who has looked less than dominant this season.
“You can just look at his Fielding Independent Pitching, you would expect him to be one of the best pitchers in the game,” Kenny said. “So, his strikeouts, walks and home runs — what a pitcher is most responsible for — he should be a superstar. … Stephen Strasburg should have a 2.50 ERA, but he doesn’t, so it’s not all coming together for this guy yet. The guys that I work with at MLB Network, they say the same thing. I work with a lot of pitchers who say, I’m waiting for this guy to bust out. How come he’s not busting out?”