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World Series off-day: Roberts interview

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Q. You made a point last night to check in with Kenley after the game. I was curious what you were looking to see and what you saw when you talked to him?

DAVE ROBERTS: Yeah, I just wanted to -- it doesn't happen very often that a game is blown when he takes the baseball. So I just wanted to come back, circle back with him, make sure he was in a good state of mind, which he was. And it's baseball, things like that happen. But he was obviously disappointed but prepared for tomorrow.

Q. You made a point last night to check in with Kenley after the game. I was curious what you were looking to see and what you saw when you talked to him?

DAVE ROBERTS: Yeah, I just wanted to -- it doesn't happen very often that a game is blown when he takes the baseball. So I just wanted to come back, circle back with him, make sure he was in a good state of mind, which he was. And it's baseball, things like that happen. But he was obviously disappointed but prepared for tomorrow.

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Q. You said in the past that you sleep fine if you feel like your process is good, even if the results are bad. Did you go through the game afterwards yesterday? Did you sleep fine?

DAVE ROBERTS: Yeah, I really did. I think it's just hard to -- that's what I believe in. And when you do things, would you do it over again if you had another opportunity. As I went through every single pitch and situation last night and situation, could I have brought Kenley in for a clean inning in the 8th? Possibly. But I think that in that situation, trying to overextend Brandon, which he already pitched an inning -- six outs wasn't ideal for Kenley, but in that situation once he gave up that lead-off double, I just felt it was time to go to him. But outside of that it's baseball. And I think that for me it's not having confidence or lack of confidence in a guy that I take out, but it's also, the other side, is having confidence on the guy I bring in. So there's both ways to look at things. And the way we've done things all year long, I know our players understand it, believe in it. I know I believe in it. And you just can't really get caught up in just chasing results, you have to kind of really believe in the process, and I know I do.

Q. Who is going to DH tomorrow? And given your depth and matchups, would you anticipate three different DHs in the three games here?

DAVE ROBERTS: I think that we haven't really decided yet. I've got Joc in left field. Outside of that there's a couple of guys that I'm thinking through on the DH spot, and just kind of really want to dig into it a little bit more. McCullers with the curveball, both guys, him and Morton, are sort of reverse guys over a large sample. So, yeah, we'll kind of think through it a little bit more, but I got Barnes catching I know that.

Q. In an era when velocity is so prized by front offices and teams, what do pitchers like McCullers and Hill do that make them succeed?

DAVE ROBERTS: Well, I think the ability to locate a fastball, you have a better odds of doing that, pitchers have a better chance of doing that. And then now when you have velocity that you can miss bats in the strike zone, so you're throwing strikes and also you have ability to miss a bat, there's a high premium on that. But the curveball, I think it's still the lowest-average-against pitch in the Big Leagues. So the ability to spin the baseball like Lance and Rich, Pomeranz can do it, certain guys have that really good breaking ball, there's certainly a place for that when you're working front to back and also up to down. It's still a tough pitch to square up, and especially when a guy can strike it when he needs to.

Q. Is that going to be harder for young kids who have that to make it up, if they don't have velocity going for them?

DAVE ROBERTS: We've seen it guys do have velocity as they get stronger. Right now, guys are throwing as hard as I've ever seen or imagined. The ability to spin the baseball, I think that's a harder discussion as far as learning how to spin the baseball. Some people believe you can or can't spin a baseball at an elite level. But arm strength, we've even seen guys have Tommy John surgery and gain velocity. I don't think we've figured that one out.

Q. You spent a few months now with Darvish, I was wondering if you've got a sense for what makes him click, what drives him?

DAVE ROBERTS: I think, yeah, every player has a different thing that drives them, fame, fortune, individual success. I think it's just he wants to win a championship. And I think that he understands that he's created an opportunity for himself to be a Major League pitcher, so that goal was accomplished. And I think that now to be playing for his team that he's always admired in the Dodgers, you can see it with his teammates. You can see when other guys have success how much joy he gets out of that. But leading up to his start days he's very focused. And I think that he has complete clarity on what he wants to do and how he feels mechanically. So now he's sort of on autopilot, just trying to do whatever it takes to win a championship.

Q. You said after the last game this is a resilient team. You also said you guys haven't faced too many urgent situations because of the way you surged out of front. Do you feel the resilience is something in your reserve that you can --

DAVE ROBERTS: I think it's just part of who we are. I really do. And granted, we haven't been in a 1-1 situation, but you look at a season, there's a lot of stressful situations or where your back's against the wall, where you have to bow your neck and fight. And that's just who we are. For me to expect anything less from our guys, it's not going to happen. Yeah, last night hurt. We turned the page. We'll be ready to go tomorrow. And those guys are a good ballclub over there. But it's going to be a great series, and we're going to play to win tomorrow.

Q. Just playing off that a little bit, last night the emotional swings were probably about as pronounced as you could get, going from low to high and you going from high to low. You played on a team that rode an emotional swing from down 3-0 to win a series. Do you think that momentum could be a factor like that in October or is every game just an entity unto itself?

DAVE ROBERTS: I think it's what you make of it. And I've said it time and time again, every team is different. Every season is different. And I think that that team we had, yeah, we rode that momentum wave. And we knew good things were going to happen, and you win eight straight games to win a championship. And right now for us, we do a great job of looking at each game individually. And if you get on the streak, which we were on this year, you can look at it as momentum, but I do believe that every day we come to the field there's a certain mindset for us to win a baseball game. And whether we're in that really good streak or in that swell that we had, our mindset was the same. So obviously it starts with pitching. And we expect Yu to spit out a good one tomorrow, and we're going to kind of follow his lead.

Q. As it relates to Darvish, can you share some of the things that your staff identified and suggested to him when he came over to your team? And do you think the fact that he's pitching differently now reduces the familiarity factor for the Astros?

DAVE ROBERTS: I do. No. 1, I know he's excited to pitch in this ballpark. He's had some success here. So there's something to be said for the psyche of a player that has had success at a ballpark. Simplifying things, I think his pitch mix, we did as an organization. I think that he really bought into and embraced. And also with the mechanics that Rick Honeycutt and he worked through, and so he is able to repeat his delivery right now. And I think that even when he came over, there was a lot of him trying to feel his way through a start, where now he can just worry about executing pitches. So that's got to lead to clarity. So outside of going into kind of how we're going to attack these guys, I think that he's in a great place. And he says it himself, that he's very comfortable and confident.

Q. Is there anything you've seen from your team since last night that would indicate to you what their mood is, how they are, how they're reacting?

DAVE ROBERTS: Nothing on the -- it was an emotional game. And just seeing guys on the bus, on the plane, in the clubhouse right now, just kind of getting resettled here into the ballpark. But we're upbeat. We're upbeat. And it's still focused. We knew that it was going to be a really great series. So I think that "focus" is probably the word. So it's not down. It's not disappointed. There's definitely no feeling sorry for ourselves. But I think it's still a very focused group.

Q. The process you guys have put in place has obviously been extremely successful getting to this point, but does the talent that the Astros have in their lineup force you to tweak it at all, in terms of how much you might extend your relievers, the idea that multi-inning stints for Morrow and Jansen might not be automatic, you might have to ask more from the starters to get deeper in the games?

DAVE ROBERTS: I think it's one of those things where you've still got to get to those high-leverage parts of the game, and there are things that you could or couldn't do early on with your starters that could essentially impact the game and make it maybe less relevant. I think you can argue both ways. I just feel that in a seven-game series you're going to have to lean on everyone. But extending your pen to an extreme amount right now in Game 2 or Game 1, understanding you still have to win four games in a seven-game series, you still have to be very careful with that. With the way that things have gone with us in the postseason we've allowed for rest because of games in between series or days in between series. But your question as far as extending starters, I think that it's the balancing of the part of the lineup, what you have available and make a decision. So that's something that I've got to weigh. I've got to manage kind of every game.

Q. Some would say after the Astros' bats came back to life last night and then coming home to their electric crowd, all the momentum is with them. Momentum is only as good as the next day's starter. How would you describe the importance of Yu Darvish being on the mound?

DAVE ROBERTS: I think he's going to pitch well. We've still got to play defense behind him. We still have to get hits. But I would argue that we had some very good at-bats ourselves, and hit some balls out of the ballpark. And we've got arguably one of the best pitchers, probably the best pitcher in baseball in the second half, out after six innings. So that's a tall task. So I think that we're pretty good offensively, too. I do believe that the momentum is the next day's starting pitcher. And like I said, Yu is going to pitch well, and we expect to win the baseball game.

Q. Yu Darvish he has so much history and experience against the Houston Astros. Do you feel be on this stage, the World Series, is going to be a different thing?

DAVE ROBERTS: I think that leading up to it. I think that for everyone it's different. I think that your routines change a little bit because of demands on your time. Obviously what's at stake. But when the game starts, it's still baseball. And like you said, Yu's had a lot of experiences, and he's prepared for this moment. I know he's excited for this moment. So there's going to be butterflies with everyone. But like I said, we expect him to pitch well.

Q. With regard to Joc's success, how difficult is it to get a guy who's been a regular for a couple of years to sit in the office with you and say, we're sending you down, we just traded for a guy, but we still believe in you and we still want you to come back?

DAVE ROBERTS: It's an honest conversation. Yeah, it's honest conversation on both sides. So with Joc as a player who is very talented, who is a big part of what we've done in the past, present and the future. But I think at that point in time there needed to be clear changes and growth for him on the field, off the field. And so the expectations are high here. And so he was very open to receiving that information and took the challenge. And statistically didn't obviously reflect going to Triple-A, but I think that his ability to stay the course and focus on things that he can control, I think have helped him grow as a Major League Baseball player. And to his credit, didn't jump ship. So to stay the course, to get back in September and now to be on the World Series roster and starting in left field tomorrow, I give all the credit to Joc and his growth, and to have a home run in the postseason and the World Series. He's done a lot of good things. You're always trying to challenge guys to get better and not be complacent. Not to say that Joc was complacent, but to get better. And to his credit he embraced it.

Q. You mentioned the Morrow-Jansen decision, was that the most difficult one?

DAVE ROBERTS: Yeah, I mean, I think that -- it's one of those things where that was a difficult decision, as well, because I thought that Rich was throwing the ball well. And you just look -- you've got to make those decisions. And it's just easier to go back when the result doesn't work out to kind of backtrack and see. But if we win that game, we're not having this conversation. We've done it in a lot of our guys' starts. That's what we believe in, I believe in. And like I said, it just didn't work out. And that's baseball. That's a heck of a ballclub over there, and they're going to keep fighting. I hope we get the opportunity again to have Kenley in the 9th with a one-run lead. Yeah, there's tough decisions that affect, obviously, the game going forward. But I can't look back and regret a decision I made.