R.A. Dickey leaves start with neck and back tightness

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According to Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca, R.A. Dickey left his start against the White Sox tonight for precautionary reasons due to neck and back tightness. He was visited by a trainer after he struck out DeWayne Wise swinging for the second out in the sixth inning, but he stayed on to complete the frame. Esmil Rogers then came out to pitch the seventh.

It’s too bad, as Dickey was cruising through his best start as a member of the Blue Jays. The knuckleballer allowed just two hits and a walk over six shutout frames while notching a season-high seven strikeouts.

Dickey, who was acquired from the Mets during the offseason, owns a 4.30 ERA and 20/9 K/BB ratio in 23 innings over his first four starts this season. While the 2012 National League Cy Young Award winner got off to a shaky start with his new club, he has allowed just one run combined over his last two outings.

UPDATE: Good news. According to John Lott of the Toronto Post, Blue Jays manager John Gibbons expects Dickey to make his next scheduled start.

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.