Shaky Rolen should take a seat in Game 4

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As costly as it was, Scott Rolen’s second error of the NLDS, which scored the go-ahead run as the Reds lost in 10 innings, isn’t reason alone to stick him on the bench against San Francisco’s Barry Zito in Wednesday’s Game 4 in Cincinnati. But it doesn’t need to be.

In Todd Frazier, the Reds have a third baseman who posted an OPS 200 points higher than Rolen did against lefties this season. Rolen came in at .234 with one homer in 77 at-bats against southpaws. Frazier hit .298 with six homers in 124 at-bats.

Meanwhile, Rolen’s poor September has carried over to the postseason, as he’s opened the series against San Francisco 2-for-11. Frazier struggled during the season’s final month, too, but he outhit Rolen over the rest of the year. As a third baseman, he’ll never be confused with prime Rolen. But then neither will the 37-year-old version of Rolen manning the hot corner right now.

The Reds don’t need to make a permanent Rolen-for-Frazier switch at third. It’s doubtful Dusty Baker would even entertain the thought. Still, plugging in Frazier against the lefty in the second of three possible games in three days makes plenty of sense. The Reds managed Rolen’s playing time carefully all year anyway, and the lineup could use Frazier’s extra pop.

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.