Stephen Strasburg shaky in third minor league rehab start

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Mark Zuckerman of CSN Washington has all the details on Stephen Strasburg’s latest rehab outing.

Strasburg, now 11 months removed from Tommy John reconstructive elbow surgery, allowed four hits, two walks and five earned runs in under two innings of work Wednesday evening against the Astros’ Single-A affiliate from Lexington, Kentucky.

He struck out three and hit 97 mph with his fastball, but the 23-year-old did not look overly sharp in what can be considered his worst professional start.

Strasburg tallied four strikeouts and yielded one run in 1 2/3 innings with Single-A Hagerstown during his first minor league rehab game, back in early August. He then threw three scoreless innings for Single-A Potomac in his second rehab appearance, fanning five.

Wednesday’s outing was certainly ugly, but the Nationals’ front office is likely taking solace in the fact that Strasburg hasn’t experienced any pain or discomfort to this point in his prized right arm.

Nationals skipper Davey Johnson told reporters this week that the current plan calls for Strasburg to return to the major league mound around September 2. That blueprint, so far, remains unchanged.

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.