LOS ANGELES -- With the Mets in town to face the Dodgers, it's only natural to turn our thoughts to Justin Turner, one of the greatest gifts, albeit indirectly, that Los Angeles has ever received from New York.
Turner played for the Mets from 2010-2013, but was non-tendered after the 2013 season, making him a free agent. The former Cal State Fullerton Titan landed in the Dodgers' lap on a minor league deal, and has been one of the most productive hitters in baseball since.
Since the start of 2014, Turner has hit .306/.379/.475 with a .373 wOBA, and a 141 wRC+ that ranks 16th in baseball during that span, among hitters with at least 800 plate appearances.
But this season, Turner is hitting just .255/.347/.363 with one home run in 30 games. He has driven in six runs despite hitting third or fourth in all 26 of his starts.
Dodgers third-place hitters (including Turner starting 18 of the club's 32 games) are hitting just .230/.310/.325, dead last in the National League in OPS. It should be added that the problems certainly aren't solely Turner, as the Dodgers are also last in OPS batting fifth, 12th batting second, and 11th batting seventh.
But the Dodgers need Turner, badly. Their lineup is built around Turner and Adrian Gonzalez (8-for-52 with no extra-base hits in his last 15 games) batting, in some order, third and fourth, and if those two aren't hitting the shortcomings of the rest of the lineup are even more magnified.
The good news is Turner is showing signs of turning things around. He has reached base in each of his last six games, hitting 7-for-22 (.318) with two doubles, a home run and four walks during that span.
"Justin made a couple mechanical changes to his swing. He said he was close, and in Tampa it clicked. He's staying above the baseball a little bit better, and not missing pitches in the hitting zone," manager Dave Roberts said on Monday. "It was only a matter of time for JT. A little minor change adjustment is big not only for him, but for us."
He was 1-for-3 with a walk on Monday night, and in 18 games against his former team is 21-for-58 (.362) with 11 doubles, two home runs and six walks.
Turner against Jacob deGrom, starting Tuesday night for the Mets, is 0-for-5 with a strikeout in their regular season battles, but was 5-for-6 with three doubles against him in the 2015 NLDS.
Time: 7:10 p.m. PT
TV: SportsNet LA, MLB Network