Aaron Gleeman

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Braves lose Freddie Freeman to wrist injury

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First baseman Freddie Freeman, around whom the Braves’ lineup revolves, is headed to the disabled list with a wrist injury.

Mark Bowman of MLB.com reports that the injury is not believed to be serious, but Freeman tried avoiding the DL and couldn’t get healthy enough to play after missing four games.

It’s a huge loss for Atlanta, because Freeman hit .299 with 12 homers, 20 doubles, and an .887 OPS through 66 games and has an .836 OPS for his career at age 25. Meanwhile, no other Braves player has an OPS above .800 this season and Cameron Maybin at .755 is the next-highest among regulars.

Jose Fernandez is dominating in the minors as he nears return from Tommy John surgery

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Marlins ace Jose Fernandez had another impressive minor-league rehab start Monday at Single-A, throwing seven innings of one-run ball as he nears a return from Tommy John elbow surgery.

Fernandez struck out 10 batters in a rehab outing last week. This time around he struck out nine, walked one, and allowed four hits while recording 21 outs on just 90 pitches. And afterward the 22-year-old right-hander told Tim Reynolds of the Associated Press that he had “no pain” and “this start did a lot of good things for my mind.”

He’s scheduled to make one final rehab start Saturday at Double-A before coming off the disabled list and rejoining the Marlins’ rotation July 2 against the Giants. It’ll be Fernandez’s first MLB action since May 9, 2014, after which he was shut down with a 2.25 ERA and 257 strikeouts through 224 career innings.

Albert Pujols is hitting like ALBERT PUJOLS again

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At age 35 and after three underwhelming Angels seasons Albert Pujols seemed to have settled into being a good but not great player, but suddenly he’s hitting like the pre-free agency Cardinals version–also known as ALBERT PUJOLS–again.

Pujols homered twice Monday night against the Astros, giving him 15 homers in his last 24 games and a league-leading 23 homers on the season.

His current .917 OPS is Pujols’ highest since 2010, when he finished runner-up in the MVP voting to Joey Votto of the Reds. And once you adjust for offensive levels being down across baseball, his OPS+ of 156 is well above his mark of 128 for the Angels from 2012-2014 and a shade below his mark of 170 for the Cardinals from 2001-2011.

Pujols’ great overall production in St. Louis involved huge batting averages, outstanding strike-zone control, and big-time power. Right now it’s mostly just the big-time power, because he’s hitting .275 and has just 21 walks in 283 plate appearances for a walk rate that’s nearly half of what is was during his peak. However, during his last 35 games Pujols has hit .328 with 17 homers, more walks than strikeouts, and a 1.168 OPS.