Washington Nationals: Howie Kendrick’s versatility will reap benefits

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MIAMI, FL - AUGUST 01: Howie Kendrick #4 of the Washington Nationals is congratulated after hitting a two run home run in the second inning during a game against the Miami Marlins at Marlins Park on August 1, 2017 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
MIAMI, FL - AUGUST 01: Howie Kendrick #4 of the Washington Nationals is congratulated after hitting a two run home run in the second inning during a game against the Miami Marlins at Marlins Park on August 1, 2017 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images) /
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Thanks to a huge division lead, the Washington Nationals acquisition of Howie Kendrick might help other players get time off

In his short time with the Washington NationalsHowie Kendrick has made a good first impression. Since being traded over from the Philadelphia Phillies, Kendrick is 10-for-30 (.333) with a home run, two RBI’s, and has an on-base percentage of .393.

With the Nats injuries, he has been a welcome addition and that will continue even when Jayson Werth and Michael Taylor return from the disabled list. Taylor is closer to returning than Werth since he has already played in a few rehab games for High-A Potomac.

For the time being, Kendrick has split time in left field with Adam Lind and has held his own at the position. However, he is a fairly new outfielder considering he started playing the outfield frequently in 2016. Despite Kendrick’s good start, the talk about benching Jayson Werth from some people need to stop.

Yes, Werth is not having a great season, but his leadership is extremely important on this team. Plus, he does a good job during games of working the pitch count up of the opposing pitcher.

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If anything, the Kendrick deal will help Werth because the Nats can manage his playing time and keep him as fresh as possible for October. It was only 40 at-bats, but Werth is a .300 hitter with 13 RBI’s in runners in scoring position situations. Even at age 38, Werth has a couple big hits left in him.

During this past weekend against the Chicago Cubs, Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post tweeted that Kendrick was taking groundballs at third base, a position he’s only played in 18 games during his career. Here’s what Dusty Baker had to say via Castillo:

If anything, playing Kendrick at third base or second base will allow Baker to give Anthony Rendon and Daniel Murphy some time off in September. Since the Nats lead the Miami Marlins by 14 games with 52 games to go and the rosters expanding in less than a month, those regulars can get off their feet as much as possible.

Of course, the Nats have to watch Kendrick’s health as well. Last night, he left the game during the team’s 3-2 win over the Marlins due to a stiff back:

From watching Kendrick when he was with the Angels, the one thing that has always stood about him is his professional approach at the plate. In a small sample size, he has seen almost four pitches per plate appearance. His ability to grind out at-bats will be critical off the bench in the postseason.

Next: Several positives emerge from Cubs series

While Kendrick deserves to play right now, he is going to be mainly a bench player once everyone gets healthy However, his versatility off the bench is going to be a big plus for the Washington Nationals, who could have one of the deepest benches in baseball when everyone is healthy.

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