Chris Sale wants to throw 200 innings this season

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Chris Sale logged 71 innings out of the White Sox bullpen in 2011 and hasn’t started a game since May of 2010 at Florida Gulf Coast University, but that hasn’t stopped him from setting the bar pretty high for his first season in the starting rotation.

According to Chuck Garfien of CSNChicago.com, Sale said yesterday that he wants to pitch 200 innings this season.

“It’s not a matter of whether I think I can. I want to,” said Sale. “That’s something that I want to push for because that’s what this team needs. I don’t really like to set goals or live up to expectations and stuff because I tried doing that last year and I failed miserably.”

It’s nice to have goals and all, but the chances of this actually happening are just about zero.

Though the White Sox don’t have a firm innings limit in mind for the 22-year-old left-hander, or at least one they are willing to disclose publicly, pitching coach Don Cooper told the Associated Press yesterday that they plan to monitor how many innings he’ll throw and “evaluate things as we’re going.” There’s no doubt that Sale has electric stuff, but one of the big unknowns is how his rail-thin frame will hold up to the rigors of pitching every fifth day in the majors.

Sale, who was selected 14th overall by Chicago in the 2010 First-Year Player Draft, has a 2.58 ERA and 111/37 K/BB ratio over his first 94 1/3 major league innings.

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.