The Phillies will be without second baseman Cesar Hernandez for roughly six weeks due to a strained oblique muscle, manager Pete Mackanin tells reporters (Twitter link via Meghan Montemurro of the News Journal).
[Related: Philadelphia Phillies depth chart]
The loss of Hernandez will remove one of the few Phillies that has been enjoying a solid season at the plate from the team’s lineup. Through 259 plate appearances, the 27-year-old switch-hitter has batted .277/.336/.399 with five homers and six RBIs. Hernandez has demonstrated more power than he did in 2016, as he’s already just one homer shy of last season’s total, though it’s come at the expense of a diminished walk rate (10.6 percent in 2016, 7.7 percent in ’17). Hernandez has been four runs above average according to both Defensive Runs Saved and Ultimate Zone Rating this year, further contributing to his value.
Veteran Howie Kendrick, who has been excellent at the plate since returning from the disabled list himself, has filled in at second base in each of the past two games for the Phils. Kendrick and his .353/.409/.529 batting line (through just 93 plate appearances) can more than adequately fill in for Hernandez, though he’s a prime trade candidate as well. Of course, if the Phils wait until the trade deadline to deal Kendrick, they may be on the verge of getting Hernandez back on the big league roster anyway.
Some fans may clamor to use Hernandez’s injury as a means of getting a look at well-regarded second base prospect Scott Kingery, though there are numerous factors that could make that scenario unlikely. The 23-year-old Kingery, a former second-round pick, is still only in his first run through Double-A ball. There’s also no urgency for the Phillies to rush him, as they currently hold the worst record in the Majors and don’t need to be especially concerned with adding a couple of wins in what looks to otherwise be a lost season. Kingery also is not yet on the 40-man roster and needn’t be added yet this offseason to shield him from the Rule 5 Draft. He has, however, laid waste to opposing pitchers with a .306/.385/.625 with 18 homers and 14 steals through just 58 games.