Ernesto Frieri has gone from unhittable to untrustworthy for the Angels

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Ernesto Frieri was absurdly good for the Angels after they acquired him from the Padres on May 3, allowing zero runs in his first 26 appearances while some people asked things like “how can someone with a 0.00 ERA not make the All-Star team?!”

In those first 26 shutout appearances for the Angels he had a ridiculous .096 opponents’ batting average and 45 strikeouts in 26.1 innings.

Since then Frieri has made 23 appearances with a still-great .206 opponents’ batting average and 12.9 strikeouts per nine innings, but his ERA is an ugly 5.79 because he’s served up seven homers in 21.2 innings.

That includes a pair of homers to blow the save and take the loss Sunday and a two-run homer to Adrian Beltre to take the loss last night. The latter bomb came after Zack Greinke tossed eight innings of one-run ball and all but killed the Angels’ playoff chances.

Frieri’s great strikeout rate and low batting average against show that he’s still been dominant much of the time, but as one of baseball’s most extreme fly-ball pitchers he’s always going to be susceptible to serving up homers in bunches and unfortunately for the Angels those bunches are coming at the worst possible time.

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.