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.
The Angels have placed Andrew Heaney on the 10-day injured list with left shoulder inflammation, the club announced Saturday. The move is retroactive to July 17, though it’s not yet certain that he’ll be cleared to pitch again by the end of the month.
It’s an unfortunate development for the 28-year-old southpaw, who has battled inflammation in his pitching elbow on and off since spring training. In fact, his arm issues date back several years, including the shoulder impingement that put him on the shelf in 2017 and the Tommy John surgery he underwent in 2016. With such a complicated medical history, it makes sense that the Angels would want to proceed with caution as they facilitate the lefty’s eventual return to the mound.
Given his ongoing struggles, Heaney has seen mixed results with the club in 2019. Prior to his recent IL assignment, he pitched to a 1-3 record in nine starts with a 5.09 ERA, 3.7 BB/9, and 10.6 SO/9 through 46 innings. Since the end of June, however, his starts have gotten shorter and shorter; he lasted just 4 1/3 innings in his final outing against the Astros, expending a tremendous 103 pitches and issuing two runs, two walks, and five strikeouts during the team’s eventual 7-2 win.
In a corresponding roster move, the Angels claimed lefty reliever Adalberto Mejía off of waivers from the Twins. Mejía, 26, is expected to be activated ahead of Saturday’s game versus the Mariners. Over 13 appearances with Minnesota, he turned in an 8.80 ERA, 7.0 BB/9, and 8.8 SO/9 in 15 1/3 innings.