Maybe Stop Pitching to Justin Turner, Playoff God

Kyle Koster

Justin Turner blasted a game-ending three-run homer to win Game 2 of the National League Championship Series. John Lackey was the unlucky Cubs pitcher tasked with the unenviable job of trying to retire Turner in a key October moment. And he failed miserably. Lackey is in good company, though, as Turner has racked up an impressive body count against hurlers in the postseason.

With the home run, Turner is now 13-for-18 with runners in scoring position. The .722 average is easily the best ever among players with at least 10 at-bats. In 22 playoff games, the third baseman has posted a .377 batting average and a 1.115 OPS.

How good is that? Pretty, pretty good.

Pitching around Turner in the No. 2 hole is difficult, especially if the leadoff man gets on. Cody Bellinger serves as a strong deterrent to a free pass in the No. 3 spot.

But at a certain point, the Cubs have to pick their poison and it’s not prudent to take the swiftest-acting one. Make someone other than Turner get the Dodgers’ big hit. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

Stop pitching to the Ruthian Turner in big spots if possible. Of course, Lackey forfeited that luxury by issuing a walk to Chris Taylor minutes before the game-winning blast. And again, Maddon shares some the responsibility for that fiasco.

Big Red’s swinging a big bat. It’d be a big mistake to pitch to him in the big moment again.