Manager Dave Roberts said Turner felt pain in his neck during batting practice on Saturday, though he was still able to start in Game 1. But after arriving on Sunday with similar discomfort, the Dodgers decided to sit Turner. Chris Taylor started at third base.
“He couldn’t turn his head to the right,” Roberts said. “Justin will do anything we ask, but I just don’t think it’s right to put him in that spot, and for us as a club, I think we have other options also.”
The Dodgers will continue to monitor Turner over the next few days.
Turner pinch-hit for Gavin Lux with two outs in the seventh inning on Sunday and was hit by a pitch from Braves right-hander Luke Jackson to load the bases. The next batter, Taylor, then hit a tiebreaking two-run double to give the Dodgers a 4-2 lead before Atlanta rallied in the eighth and ninth to walk off for the second straight game and take a 2-0 series lead as the NLCS shifts to Los Angeles.
The Dodgers are hoping Turner will be back in the starting lineup on Tuesday for Game 3.
Aside from the neck injury, Turner has struggled at the plate throughout this postseason. It’s uncharacteristic, as he has compiled 13 playoff homers, the most in Dodgers history. This October, however, Turner is 3-for-28 with one homer and seven strikeouts, including going 1-for-4 with two K's on Saturday night.
Turner, who ranked in the 83rd percentile in chase rate during the regular season, is swinging at pitches out of the strike zone much more frequently during the postseason. The Dodgers have been held to three runs or fewer in five of their seven playoff games, and the veteran’s struggles at the plate have certainly played a role in that.
“Certainly when guys are struggling, it’s a combo. It’s the chase, and when you do get pitches to handle, you’re not finishing the at-bat,” Roberts said. “I think that’s what’s happening to Justin. I think a lot of our guys are a little bit caught in-between on velocity versus spin. … But he’ll get out of it.”
With Turner out, the Dodgers adjusted their starting lineup. Lux, who did not play in Game 1, hit fifth for the 11th time this year. He was 3-for-9 in six postseason games. Cody Bellinger, who had a pinch-hit single in the ninth inning Saturday, also returned to the lineup, playing first base and batting seventh.