Mike Matheny will manage Thursday against a pitcher he coached at a St. Louis high school

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Before Mike Matheny was named manager of the Cardinals, he spent a few years as a part-time assistant baseball coach at a high school in St. Louis called Westminster Christian Academy.

In 2009, Matheny offered tips and advice to an 18-year-old right-hander on the Westminster varsity team named Jacob Turner. And now the two will meet again on a Major League Baseball diamond.

Turner — a first-round pick of the Tigers in the ’09 amateur draft and currently 21 years of age — will be on the mound in Thursday’s series-finale against the Cardinals, a team he grew up rooting for now being managed by one of his mentors.

“He’s a special person,” Turner told John Lowe of the Detroit Press when asked Wednesday about the role Matheny played in his young-adult life, “Obviously, I feel like he helped me a lot.”

Matheny has often featured multiple bench guys in day games, but he has the big guns out for Turner. Rafael Furcal bats leadoff, followed by Skip Schumaker, Matt Holliday, Carlos Beltran, Allen Craig, Yadier Molina, David Freese, Matt Adams and Daniel Descalso. It’s MLB.TV’s Free Game of the Day.

Turner will be making his 2012 debut. He was promoted Thursday morning after posting a 3.43 ERA, 1.26 WHIP and 27/19 K/BB ratio in 42 innings for the Tigers’ Triple-A affiliate in Toledo, Ohio.

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.