Feliz throwing gas, missing bats in Rangers' pen

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Neftali Feliz followed up his impressive big-league debut by showing that he was human in appearance No. 2, but got back to being untouchable last night. He struck out five of the six batters he faced in two perfect innings, and now has the following video game-like numbers through four career outings:

 IP      ERA     SO     BB      AVG      OBP      SLG
6.2     1.35     13      0     .045     .045     .182

Not bad, huh?
He’s faced a total of 22 batters, striking out 13 of them while walking zero and allowing just one hit for an opponents’ batting line of .045/.045/.182. Feliz’s slider and changeup have both been extremely effective so far, but obviously his overpowering fastball has gotten most of the attention. He’s thrown his fastball nearly 80 percent of the time so far, averaging an amazing 98.8 miles per hour with the seemingly effortless pitch. Here are the top fastball velocities from pitchers who’ve logged at least five innings:

Joel Zumaya           99.3
NEFTALI FELIZ         98.8
Jonathan Broxton      97.8
Daniel Bard           96.9
Brian Wilson          96.4
Matt Lindstrom        96.3

Joel Zumaya is the only guy to throw harder than Feliz, but he’s on the disabled list again because his arm basically keeps blowing up. Of the 35 pitchers to average at least 95 mph with their fastball this season only four have done so as starters, which is interesting because Feliz was a full-time starter in the minors and still figures to join the Rangers’ rotation eventually. Ubaldo Jimenez is this year’s hardest-throwing starter at 95.9, followed by Justin Verlander and Felipe Paulino at 95.4 and Josh Johnson at 95.1.
So yeah, Neftali Feliz throws kind of hard.

Justin Turner is a postseason monster

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A not-insignificant amount of the Dodgers’ success in recent years has to do with the emergence of Justin Turner. In his first five seasons with the Orioles and Mets, he was a forgettable infielder who had versatility, but no power. The Mets non-tendered him after the 2013 season, a move they now really regret.

In four regular seasons since, as a Dodger, Turner has hit an aggregate .303/.378/.502. His 162-game averages over those four seasons: 23 home runs, 36 doubles, 83 RBI, 80 runs scored. And he’s also a pretty good third baseman, it turns out. The Dodgers have averaged 95 wins per season over the past four years.

Turner, 32, has gotten better and better with each passing year. This year, he drew more walks (59) than strikeouts (56), a club only five other players (min. 300 PA) belonged to, and he trailed only Joey Votto (1.61) in BB/K ratio (1.05). He zoomed past his previous career-high in OPS, finishing at .945. His .415 on-base percentage was fourth-best in baseball. His batting average was fifth-best and only nine points behind NL batting champion Charlie Blackmon.

It doesn’t seem possible, but Turner has been even better in the postseason. He exemplified that with his walk-off home run to win Game 2 of the NLCS against the Cubs. Overall, entering Wednesday night’s action, he was batting .363/.474/.613 in 97 postseason plate appearances. In Game 4, he went 2-for-2 with two walks, a single, and a solo home run. That increases his postseason slash line to .378/.495/.659, now across 101 plate appearances. That’s a 1.154 OPS. The career-high regular season OPS for future first-ballot Hall of Famer Albert Pujols was 1.114 in 2008, when he won his third career MVP Award. Statistically, in the postseason, Turner hits slightly better than Pujols did in the prime of his career. Of course, we should adjust for leagues and parks and all that, but to even be in that neighborhood is incredible.

In the age of stats, the concept of “clutch” has rightfully eroded. We don’t really allow players to ascend to godlike levels anymore like the way we did Derek Jeter, for instance. (Jeter’s career OPS in the playoffs, by the way, was a comparatively pitiful .838.) Turner isn’t clutch; he’s just a damn good hitter whose careful approach at the plate has allowed him to shine in the postseason and the Dodgers can’t imagine life without him.