10:02pm: Inciarte’s injury does indeed look “significant,” Mark Bowman of MLB.com tweets. The Braves will further evaluate him Saturday.
7:17pm: Already facing mounting health challenges, the Braves are now left with another potentially significant injury. Center fielder Ender Inciarte was removed from tonight’s game with what the team is labeling a right hamstring injury, as David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution was among those to cover on Twitter.
After a slow start at the plate, Inciarte suffered a lumbar strain that robbed him of a significant chunk of the season. While his status with the club once seemed in question, Inciarte has been on fire at the plate since returning. He’s now a critical part of the team’s outfield mix with Nick Markakis and Austin Riley on the shelf (and the latter having endured a lengthy slump).
While we won’t know more about Inciarte’s status until he has undergone further medical review, it’s quite worrisome to see him limp off with a hammy problem. There are just six weeks left in the regular season, with the postseason beckoning thereafter, so there’s not much time to give a significant muscle injury adequate rest. The club will have to hope that it’s just a low-grade strain.
Earlier today, the Braves demoted Adam Duvall and Johan Camargo, both of whom have struggled at the plate in recent weeks. The former seems like an obvious replacement option — that’s the entire reason he was tendered a contract and kept all season long, after all — and he’ll be able to come right back from Gwinnett without waiting the usual ten days if Inciarte hits the injured list. But that would leave a suboptimal outfield group to supplement Ronald Acuna, with Duvall potentially joining Matt Joyce, Charlie Culberson, and Rafael Ortega as options.
If Inciarte ends up being diagnosed with a significant injury, it’s likely the Braves will end up taking a hard look at the waiver wire for upgrades. Left-handed-hitting speed demon Billy Hamilton did just come available today; he carries a generally similar profile to Inciarte, albeit with much lesser abilities with the bat. Some will no doubt raise the call for top prospects Christian Pache and Drew Waters. It’d certainly be a bold and fascinating gambit for the team to promote either of the talented twenty-year-olds, though there’s no real indication whether that will seriously be considered.