Cashman says Phil Hughes will probably need “a few more” starts in the minors

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Phil Hughes made his second minor league rehab start last night with Double-A Trenton. And the results were decidedly mixed.

Hughes allowed one run on two hits over 3 1/3 innings while walking two and striking out three. He threw 42 out of 72 pitches for strikes.

And while Hughes topped out at 95 mph on the radar gun in Sunday’s start with Class A Staten Island, he reached 93 mph on his fastball last night and mostly sat in the 89-91 mph range. Of course, that’s better than the 89.3 mph he averaged on his fastball before going on the disabled list, but the Yankees are obviously watching his velocity closely.

Yankees general manager Brian Cashman was in attendance for last night’s start and told Fred Kerber of the New York Post that Hughes still has some work to do.

“He was OK,” said Cashman, who had proclaimed velocity and continuing to build arm strength as the goals of the evening. “He needs to command his fastball better and get his consistency going. He probably needs a few more starts.”

Before the game, Cashman told Matt Ehalt of ESPNNewYork.com that Hughes’ next start will probably come with Double-A Trenton, with a pitch count around 90. Things could change if Brian Gordon struggles in the rotation, but it’s increasingly likely that Hughes will need two or three more starts before returning from the disabled list.

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.