Red Sox set to call up left-hander Andrew Miller

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With Andrew Miller holding a June 15 outclause in his deal, it’s a given that the Red Sox are about to call up the former first-round pick of the Tigers. His ERA is down to 2.54 at Triple-A Pawtucket, and in his last three starts, he’s allowed a total of four runs and posted a 16/2 K/BB ratio in 20 innings.

What isn’t yet known is how the Red Sox intend to employ Miller. Apart from an eight-appearance stint in the pen during his pro debut in A-ball in 2006, Miller hasn’t worked as a reliever. He’s limiting left-handers to a .111 average in Triple-A this year, so maybe he could be useful as a matchup reliever late in games. However, that’s far from a given. Miller has a long history of control issues, and relievers who struggle to throw strikes are hard to trust late in games.

As much progress as Miller has made recently, the right move now is to stick him in the rotation. It’s not an easy call, since it’d mean bumping elder statesman Tim Wakefield back to the pen yet again. But Miller still has an incredibly high ceiling, and it’s worth seeing if he’s finally ready to pitch up to his potential. He’s earned the opportunity while allowing just one homer in 60 1/3 innings for Pawtucket. It wouldn’t be a big surprise if he’s the choice to start when the Red Sox face the Brewers on Sunday.

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.