Dodgers: Keys to Hot Postseason Start and J.T’s Walk Off Home Run

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 15: Justin Turner
LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 15: Justin Turner /

The Dodgers are off to a dominant start in the 2017 postseason, staying undefeated in their first five games. Now with the series shifting to Chicago, the Dodgers need to rely on more of the same if they want to advance to their first World Series in 29 years.

We’ll all remember where we were when Justin Turner hit the second most memorable home run in Dodger history. If you haven’t seen it by now, you can check it out here. Heck even if you have seen it 100 times, this at-bat never gets old.

This team is special. We’ve said it all season long. Whether it was the winning stretch over a 58 game span or the losing streak in September, this team was always special. The MLB has never seen a season like the one the Dodgers are having and this postseason they’re proving this is their year. Whether it be situational hitting or clutch pitching, this team has all the characteristics to win a championship.

Let’s talk about Justin Turner first. What can’t this guy do? He’s a hitting machine in October. Turner’s career postseason line is .377/.478/.636 with six doubles, a triple, four home runs, 22 RBI. He has driven in 10 runs the first five games this postseason including two 3-run home runs. Turner is delivering in the clutch, too. Turner is 13-18 (.722) when hitting with runners in scoring position. That is the best mark all-time among players with at least ten postseason at-bats with runners in scoring position. Dave Roberts compared Justin Turner to David Ortiz in his post-game interview after game two.

"“I’m not saying he’s David Ortiz, but I played with David, and you’re talking about big spots and coming up big,” Roberts said. “And J.T.’s that guy for us. He just has that pulse where he can just kind of keep his calm and stay within the strike zone, just not afraid to fail and just wants to be in that spot.”"

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Turner sets the tone early for the entire Dodger team. I love watching his at-bats, and the team feeds off of his energy. Every Dodger in the lineup is having quality at-bats and taking a lot of pitches. Last night the Dodgers saw a total of 174 pitches and drew nine walks. Those type of at-bats force Maddon to go to the bullpen early in the game and the Dodgers have been crushing the Cubs’ bullpen.

Speaking of the bullpen, enough can’t be said about how Dave Roberts is managing the pitching staff. After a career-defining moment for Roberts in game one, choosing to remove Kershaw after only 86 pitches, he continues to call the right numbers with the bullpen in game two.

Last night the Dodgers bullpen retired 22 Cubs straight before Jansen hit Rizzo to end the streak. Going back to the NLDS, the bullpen retired 24 straight batters, which is the longest streak in postseason history. The Dodgers keep finding themselves in a battle of the bullpens, and that is exactly what Dave Roberts wants.

The Cubs hitters want no part of Jansen or Morrow. The powerful duo combined for five scoreless innings with nine strikeouts on only 58 pitches. Both have yet to allow a hit and are dominating the Cubs heart of their lineup. They say that team’s with the best bullpens win in October and the Dodgers are certainly following that narrative.

Next: Roberts vs. Maddon

What’s unique about this team is that there are so many unlikely performers on this roster. No one would have thought Chris Taylor, Austin Barnes, and even Cody Bellinger would be in the starting lineup in the NLCS during spring training. Players continue to step up like Charlie Culberson filling in for Corey Seager. Culberson is hitting .400/.333/.800 with two doubles in his starts. Even players that were considered back-up acquisitions at the trade deadline like Tony Watson and Tony Cingrani are having impact roles on this team.

The Dodgers are the sixth team in the Wild Card era to start the postseason 5-0. Each of the previous five has reached the World Series. The Cubs have trailed 0-2 in a best of seven series five times, they have lost each of those series. #6MoreWins #ThisTeam