UPDATE: Strasburg placed on the disabled list; no comment from Jim Bunning

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UPDATE: The Nats have places Strasburg on the DL. This is likely precautionary as Strasburg says he feels better than he did on Tuesday.  Because of the ability to DL him retroactive to his last start, the ten-day shutdown period mentioned before is likely more relevant.

9:34 A.M.: Jim Riggleman was on Sirius/XM radio this morning and said that Stephen Strasburg would be shut down for ten days and that there’s a chance he goes to the disabled list.  Riggleman said that this isn’t a full shut-down, though, and that he thinks Strasburg will start again this year.

In other Strasburg news, Hall of Famer, U.S. Senator and all around jerk Jim Bunning was at Tuesday’s Braves-Nats game and expected to see Strasburg pitch. After missing out, he went off about Strasburg to the political blog Politco:

“Five-hundred twenty starts, I never refused the ball,” Bunning, a
Kentucky senator who hurled a perfect game in 1964 and struck out 2,855
batters in his Major League career, told POLITICO. “What a joke!”

Bunning had taken an interest in Strasburg, who like the Kentucky
senator is a fire-ball hurling right-hander. The senator has seen the
Nationals ace four times and was at the ballpark Tuesday night, he said.

But he clearly didn’t like what he saw – or rather didn’t see – when the youngster didn’t take the mound.

“My arm!” Bunning sarcastically cried as he pretended to clutch his shoulder in the Capitol’s Statuary Hall.

He said Strasburg’s fallen greatly in his estimation. “He was in the
top one percentile,” Bunning said, pinching his thumb and forefinger
together. Now, Bunning said, he’s closer to the 50th percentile.

Whatever.  Bunning may have been a durable pitcher over the course of his career, but he also had all of 11 starts under his belt before he was 25 (Strasburg just turned 22). How much you wanna bet that if you described that usage pattern to Bunning without telling him who it was referring to that he’d consider such a pitcher to be “babied?”

Either way, Bunning has basically become a joke over the past ten years, so if he’s saying “x” you can pretty much bank on “not x” being the case.

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.