Homer Bailey hurls six shutout innings subbing for suspended Johnny Cueto

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Johnny Cueto’s seven-game suspension meant he couldn’t make his scheduled start yesterday, so the Reds activated Homer Bailey from the disabled list to take his place and he shut out the Marlins for six innings in a 2-0 victory that completed a three-game sweep.
Cincinnati is back alone in first place despite being swept by St. Louis last week and the Reds’ rotation is looking stronger than ever with Bailey healthy for the first time since mid-May, Edinson Volquez showing positive signs in his return from Tommy John surgery, and Cueto’s suspension causing him to miss just the one start.
Not only did Bailey toss six scoreless innings, reach 95 miles per hour with his fastball, and retire the final 10 batters he faced after missing nearly three months with a shoulder injury, he handed out zero walks for just the fourth time in 47 starts.
Dusty Baker told Mark Sheldon of MLB.com that Bailey “threw the ball great” and added that it’s “a great sign for us to have fresh arms like Homer and Volquez down the stretch” because “when everybody else is a little worn, they’re just getting revved up.” They may not have any room for Aaron Harang once he’s ready to come off the DL.

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.