Mike Pelfrey pitched with a bum rotator cuff most of last year

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Mike Pelfrey is the defacto ace of the Mets staff. And, while he’s not elite or anything, he showed in 2010 that he can be a dependable starter. Which is nuts considering that, as the Daily News reports, he pitched most of the 2010 season with a messed up shoulder:

“I had a strained rotator cuff and a strained posterior capsule almost the whole season,” Pelfrey told the Daily News Thursday, a day before making his first Opening Day start Friday night against Florida. The 27-year-old righty is ready to be the Mets’ ace, a leadership role that he relished even as the No. 2 guy last year, when he decided to pitch through pain.

Based on the article it doesn’t seem as though Pelfrey or the team was risking anything health-wise by letting him pitch through it, but he certainly was in pain.  Notable, though, is that his season splits aren’t dramatic. His first half was better, but the second half was still pretty good. His strikeout rate went down, but he became a bit more stingy with the walks.  Even his second half was an improvement over anything he did in 2009.

The Mets biggest weakness this year is the rotation. If they’re going to have any shot to make a go of it in 2011, they’ll need Pelfrey to anchor the staff.  That’s no given, but assuming he’s feeling better this year than he did last year, it’s not a long shot either.

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.