For the first time in his seven-year career, Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper has reached triple digits in RBI. The 25-year-old lifted a sacrifice fly to left field to plate Adam Eaton in the bottom of the fourth inning of Monday night’s game against the Marlins, pushing the Nationals’ lead to 3-1.
Harper finished the 2015 season with a career-high 99 RBI en route to winning the NL MVP Award. His next-highest RBI total was 87 last year and 86 in ’16.
That a player as talented as Harper never reached 100 RBI prior to this year shows the fatal flaw in RBI as a statistic. Having a lot of RBI is very dependent on having RBI opportunities. Last year, Harper had the likes of Brian Goodwin, Wilmer Difo, and a past-his-prime Jayson Werth batting in front of him — none of the three exactly mavens of reaching base, at least as far as last year is concerned. Harper, of course, has also struggled to stay healthy — he has crossed 140 games in a season just three times — which has also been a factor in his depressed RBI totals.
Harper is a free agent after the season. Due to sky-high expectations, his 2018 has often been thought of as a disappointment, but he entered Monday batting .245/.391/.495 with 34 homers, 98 runs scored, and 126 walks (tops in the majors). In this day and age, hitting 100 RBI won’t move the needle too much towards a payday, but it doesn’t hurt. Those other numbers, which are excellent, will do most of the talking.
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.