NLCS Game 4 lineups: Giants vs. Cardinals

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source: Reuters

Here are the lineups for Game 4 of the NLCS between the Giants and Cardinals, in St. Louis:

   SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS            ST. LOUIS CARDINALS
1. Angel Pagan, CF              1. Jon Jay, CF
2. Marco Scutaro, 2B            2. Matt Carpenter, 1B
3. Buster Posey, 1B             3. Matt Holliday, LF
4. Pablo Sandoval, 3B           4. Allen Craig, RF
5. Hector Sanchez, C            5. Yadier Molina, C
6. Hunter Pence, RF             6. David Freese, 3B
7. Gregor Blanco, LF            7. Daniel Descalso, 2B
8. Brandon Crawford             8. Pete Kozma, SS
9. Tim Lincecum, SP             9. Adam Wainwright, SP

Bruce Bochy wanted Hector Sanchez behind the plate to catch Tim Lincecum, so Buster Posey shifts to first base and Brandon Belt takes a seat on the bench. Bochy also dropped the struggling Hunter Pence down one spot, with Sanchez taking his usual place as the No. 5 hitter.

For the first time this postseason Mike Matheny has changed the Cardinals’ lineup and it’s thanks to Carlos Beltran’s knee injury keeping him on the bench. Matt Carpenter replaced Beltran in right field during Game 3, but tonight he starts at first base with Allen Craig shifting to right field. Carpenter is batting in Beltran’s usual No. 2 spot.

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.