Jake Arrieta likely to undergo season-ending elbow surgery

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Jake Arrieta will find out next week whether he needs season-ending surgery to remove a fibrous mass from his elbow, but even before his August 10 examination by Dr. Lewis Yocum the Orioles right-hander isn’t optimistic about avoiding going under the knife.

“I don’t know if it’s 100 percent, but there’s a good chance I have it done,” Arrieta told Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun, adding:

I kind of knew at some point this might come up. I’ve been really battling this for most of the year. Done as best job as I can to manage it with treatment, taken some anti-inflammatories, but it’s come to a point where it’s really affecting the way I pitch. And I feel like I’m potentially putting myself at risk for a more serious injury if I don’t have it looked at a little bit more seriously.

Arrieta was one of the reasons many people were optimistic about the Orioles’ young rotation taking a big step forward this season, but instead he has a 5.05 ERA and 93/59 K/BB ratio in 22 starts while serving up 21 homers in 119 innings. That includes a 6.61 ERA in six starts since June 1, during which time Arrieta posted a 22/17 K/BB ratio and allowed opponents to hit .302 with a .566 slugging percentage.

He’s apparently been dealing with the elbow problem since last year, but recently had to alter his mechanics in order to deal with the discomfort, resulting in poor control and a career-high six walks last time out because he “had no feel with where the ball was going.”

The good news is that the surgery is considered relatively minor and would leave Arrieta plenty of time to be ready for spring training.

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.