MLB

Dodgers vs. Braves: Justin Turner out of Los Angeles’ lineup for NLCS Game 2 with neck issue

USATI

The Los Angeles Dodgers will attempt to even the best-of-seven National League Championship Series on Sunday night when they play Game 2 against the Atlanta Braves. One familiar name isn’t in the Dodgers starting lineup. Third baseman Justin Turner will at least begin the night on the bench, with Chris Taylor taking Turner’s usual spot at third base. (Gavin Lux will be in center and Cody Bellinger at first base.) According to manager Dave Roberts, Turner is out of the lineup due to a stinger on the right side of his neck. Turner has been experiencing difficulty turning his neck but he is expected to be back in the lineup for Game 3, Roberts added.

Turner, 36 years old, has struggled this postseason. Coming into Sunday night, he’s hit just .107/.167/.214 in 30 trips to the plate. He hasn’t recorded an extra-base hit since he homered in his second at-bat of the month, back in the NL Wild Card Game. Comparatively, Turner had another brilliant regular season, batting .278/.361/.471 (123 OPS+) with 27 home runs and an additional 22 doubles in 151 contests.

Turner’s woes are not simply a product of bad luck. Whereas his average exit velocity during the regular season was 90.9 mph, his average exit velocity in the playoffs has been 85.6 mph. Additionally, and on a rate basis, Turner is swinging more frequently; whiffing more frequently; and expanding his strike zone more frequently. Take a look:

Regular season

90.9 mph

44.5%

17.7%

22.7%

Postseason

85.6 mph

48.7%

23.2%

35.7%

Of course, Turner’s ball-tracking data could prove to be more descriptive than predictive — or, a snapshot of his first 30 trips to the plate versus a preview of his next 30. It’s still understandable if the Dodgers want to give Turner a night off to reset while finding a way to maximize their offensive output on Sunday night: Los Angeles has scored three runs or fewer in five of its seven playoff games to date. (To be fair, the Dodgers scored 16 runs combined in their other two contests, both victories.)

Historically, MLB teams who fall behind 0-2 in best-of-seven sets go on to lose the series 16 percent of the time. That makes Game 2 a vital one for the Dodgers. Here’s how you can watch the high-stakes affair.



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