Could Jason Marquis be left off the postseason rotation?

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Seems crazy given the fact that he was an All Star and has 15 wins, but given his late season slide, including last night’s loss, people are talking about it in Denver:

An all-star, one of baseball’s most
pleasant surprises for four months, Marquis has raised at least a
morsel of doubt regarding his playoff rotation spot . . .
If, as expected, the Rockies reach the
postseason, they must configure their rotation. As it stands, the only
lock is Ubaldo Jimenez for the Oct. 7 opener, followed closely by Jorge
De La Rosa, Marquis, Jason Hammel and Aaron Cook. Only four starters
would be necessary, leaving Cook an X-factor to wedge himself back in
with a strong showing Friday. A rotation without Marquis seems a
longshot but can no longer be dismissed out of hand.

Marquis has gotten used to being left out of the mix in the postseason. Early in his career it was because he was the least-essential pitcher on the Atlanta Braves. More recently, it’s because he’s posted poor second halves, not unlike the one he has going on this year.  He’s the bizarro Adam LaRoche, really.

If the postseason started today, the Rockies would face the Cardinals. Marquis has faced St. Louis once this year, and pitched well. He’s done pretty decently against them overall in his career, posting a 9-7 record and a 3.80 ERA.  My guess is that he’s in the rotation, but the very fact that reasonable people are suggesting he might not be bodes ill for the Rockies’ chances once the playoffs start.

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.