WASHINGTON -- Howie Kendrick, who played for the Phillies during the 2017 season, was not in Tuesday's lineup against his former team at Nationals Park. The veteran hitter has been limited as of late because of tightness in his hamstrings, appearing in 17 games this season.
“I want to make sure that we continue to have him for the rest of the year, and that something doesn’t happen,” Nationals manager Dave Martinez said. “It’s just based on conversation, what we see and how he gets out of the box, how he’s swinging, things of that nature.”
Martinez said he speaks to Kendrick daily, including after Monday’s 11-8 loss to the Marlins in which he went 1-for-4 with an RBI. Kendrick, 37, will relay to Martinez how he feels -- for example, if his legs feel heavy and he would be better suited to pinch-hit, or if he’s good to go for nine innings.
“There’s also days where I can pick where if the matchup ain’t so great -- even though he’s good on everybody -- but somebody else could be good, too, on this person that we can actually give him a day and plop him in when we need him for a pinch-hit,” Martinez said.
Kendrick is batting .288 with 17 hits, nine RBIs and one homer in 59 at-bats in 2020.
Voth gets away from his strength
A day after right-hander Austin Voth dropped to 0-3 with a 6.65 ERA in his first season in the starting rotation, Martinez planned to talk to him about his struggles over five outings. Voth pitched just 3 2/3 frames (six runs, six hits, three walks, three strikeouts) in Monday's 11-8 loss to the Marlins.
“I can tell you now, I'm not going to give up on him,” Martinez said. “I looked at some of the stuff last night that I wanted to look at, and I think he's going away from his strength a little bit because he hasn't had any success. Here's a guy that I've known that used to attack the strike zone with fastballs up, down and away. Yesterday, he threw an excessive amount of sliders. I've never seen him do that before.”
Voth leans toward his fastball, which he throws 57.7 percent of the time. He opts for his slider on 13.8 percent of his pitches, but on Monday, 23 of his 73 pitchers were sliders (31.5 percent).
“I'm going to talk to him about why he did that and then just tell him, ‘Hey, I want you to be the Austin Voth that personally I fell in love with,’” Martinez said. “‘And that's attacking the strike zone with your fastball -- up, in, down and away. And then after that, just use your secondary pitches and see where we go from there. But we need him.”
“He earned the right to be the fifth starter,” Martinez said. “So we got to fix him, and hopefully we'll get him going this week and hopefully next time he'll be better."