The Nationals have placed veteran utilityman Howie Kendrick on the 10-day injured list due to a left hamstring strain. The placement is retroactive to September 6.
Given both the calendar and the difficult nature of hamstring injuries, there is certainly a chance that Kendrick could be out of action for the remainder of the 2020 season. With the Nationals at 16-25, the team could also explore shutting Kendrick down if and when a postseason berth becomes an impossibility. Washington’s .390 winning percentage sits 13th out of 15 National League teams.
Kendrick missed two weeks of Summer Camp due to a coronavirus quarantine, so between that missed time and a hamstring problem that The Athletic’s Brittany Ghiroli notes has bothered him for much of the season, it isn’t surprising that Kendrick has delivered below-average production (.275/.320/.385) over an even 100 plate appearances. This is well below the .294/.337/.431 career slash line he carried into 2020, but there is some misfortune baked into Kendrick’s performance this season, as his .358 xwOBA is considerably higher than his .293 wOBA.
With the DH spot open to the National League this season, Kendrick has mostly filled that role for the Nats, only appearing in the field (at first base) for six of his 25 games. Juan Soto was the designated hitter in last night’s lineup, and since the young slugger is still recovering from an elbow problem, Soto could see the bulk of DH action until he is ready to resume his usual outfield duties.
Since being traded by the Phillies to the Nationals in July 2017, Kendrick has been a very valuable part-timer for Washington, particularly during a big 2019 that saw him star in both the regular season and in the postseason. Kendrick signed a one-year deal for the 2020 season that carries a $6.5MM mutual option for 2021 (with a $2.25MM buyout), so it remains to be seen if his struggles this year could lead the Nats to part ways with the 37-year-old.