Triple Crown Watch: Albert Pujols vs. Joey Votto

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Not only does Omar Infante (and his .341 batting average) still loom as a potential Triple Crown spoiler if he can get near the plate appearances necessary to qualify for the batting title, Carlos Gonzalez of the Rockies has emerged as a Triple Crown darkhorse himself.
Gonzalez has taken over the batting average lead at .326, just narrowly ahead of Joey Votto at .325 and Albert Pujols and .320, and ranks just five RBIs behind Pujols for the league lead.
Gonzalez trails Pujols by six homers, which is why he’s not quite fully in the Triple Crown discussion for now, but he’s one big week away from making it a three-man race for the first Triple Crown since Carl Yastrzemski in 1967.

BATTING AVERAGE
Carlos Gonzalez   .326
JOEY VOTTO        .325
ALBERT PUJOLS     .320
HOME RUNS
ALBERT PUJOLS      35
JOEY VOTTO         32
Adam Dunn          32
Carlos Gonzalez    29
RUNS BATTED IN
ALBERT PUJOLS      95
JOEY VOTTO         93
Carlos Gonzalez    90

Padres sign Aaron Loup to a one-year deal

Aaron Loup
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Free agent lefty reliever Aaron Loup has been given a locker in the Padres’ clubhouse, AJ Cassavell of MLB.com reported Sunday. Per MLB Network’s Jon Heyman, Loup received a one-year MLB deal with a club option for 2020. The Padres will shift right-hander Garrett Richards to the 60-day injured list to make room on the 40-man roster.

Loup, 31, began the 2018 season with the Blue Jays and was traded to the Phillies for minor league right-hander Jacob Waguespack at the midseason deadline. The veteran left-hander pitched just two innings in Philadelphia before hitting the injured list with a forearm strain and returned for a handful of appearances at the end of the year, bringing him up to a 4.54 ERA, 3.2 BB/9, 10.0 SO/9, and 0.3 fWAR across 39 2/3 combined innings.

Assuming health issues don’t complicate his next campaign in San Diego, Loup will be added to the bullpen alongside fellow left-handers Matt Strahm and José Castillo (with the possible late addition of southpaw reliever Brad Wieck, who underwent surgery for testicular cancer earlier this year). There are worse places to be — according to FanGraphs, the Padres’ ‘pen jumped from second-worst in 2017 to second-best in the league with a cumulative 3.53 ERA, 3.31 FIP, and 8.7 fWAR in 2018.