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Ray Searage would advise his pitchers not to pitch in the World Baseball Classic

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The World Baseball Classic is set to kick off in March. For the Pirates, none of their pitchers are participating, but catcher Francisco Cervelli (Italy) and outfielders Andrew McCutchen (USA), Starling Marte (Dominican Republic), and Gregory Polanco (Dominican Republic) are.

If any of the Pirates’ pitchers were participating, pitching coach Ray Searage would advise them against doing so, he said in an interview with MLB Network Radio.

I am not one of the guys that is in favor of the WBC and the reason being — I’ve seen it over the years before — guys cutting short their rest periods for the winter and their workout routines and speeding it up. Now, this doesn’t hold true for everybody. It’s just that, in my opinion, I just think that you’re speeding up the process and that you leave yourself open to an injury during the season because now, all of a sudden, instead of April where you’re firing off, now you’re firing off in March, which is a couple of weeks before you should be. And the body is, to me, looking at my pitchers and stuff, they’re routine orientated. And the way they go about their stuff, speeding up the process — it happened to two of our guys. That’s probably why I have a bad taste in my mouth, it happened to two of our guys the last time: Jason Grilli and Wandy Rodriguez. They played in the WBC and they ended up getting hurt during the season. I think it’s great for baseball, I really do, but it’s that catch-22 thing: you’re danged if you do and danged if you don’t. If any of my pitchers asked me, I’d say no.

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.