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October Confidential: Dodgers vs. Nationals

The Dodgers and Nationals clash in the NLDS in their first postseason meeting (outside of the Dodgers-Expos NLCS in 1981) with Washington eyeing its first NLCS appearance and Los Angeles seeking a return to the NLCS for the first time since 2013. What's the best way to beat each of these teams? To find out, we asked players from across their respective divisions to give the inside intel on how these clubs can be beaten. Our sources were granted anonymity in exchange for their candor.

LOS ANGELES DODGERS
Clayton Kershaw
"The big key to him is to attack early in the at-bat. If you miss a mistake, you're going to be in trouble, because he'll finish the at-bat. He commands all four of his pitches. My approach with him is to be ready a little bit late, because his [delivery] is kind of slow. That's the key -- to attack early in the count, but to be ready to hit a little bit later."
-- NL West catcher

The Dodgers and Nationals clash in the NLDS in their first postseason meeting (outside of the Dodgers-Expos NLCS in 1981) with Washington eyeing its first NLCS appearance and Los Angeles seeking a return to the NLCS for the first time since 2013. What's the best way to beat each of these teams? To find out, we asked players from across their respective divisions to give the inside intel on how these clubs can be beaten. Our sources were granted anonymity in exchange for their candor.

LOS ANGELES DODGERS
Clayton Kershaw
"The big key to him is to attack early in the at-bat. If you miss a mistake, you're going to be in trouble, because he'll finish the at-bat. He commands all four of his pitches. My approach with him is to be ready a little bit late, because his [delivery] is kind of slow. That's the key -- to attack early in the count, but to be ready to hit a little bit later."
-- NL West catcher

Video: LAD@SF: Kershaw's 13 strikeouts in 13 seconds

:: NLDS: Dodgers vs. Nationals coverage ::

 

Adrian Gonzalez
"With Adrian, you have to be able to throw it inside. He takes the ball the other way so well when it's a ball over the plate. He stands far off the plate, so you have room to work with, and if you go in with one hard fastball off the plate, in, it can kind of set up the rest of the at-bat."
-- NL West relief pitcher

Justin Turner
"He's got a big leg kick, big swing, and anything offspeed, he can gather. You have to be careful with breaking balls. But he also hunts the heater, so it's a double-edged sword. You want to throw your breaking ball down, but if you leave anything up, he's going to kill you. With Turner, you have to do your best to offset his timing."
-- NL West starting pitcher

Read the complete Dodgers October Confidential »

WASHINGTON NATIONALS
Max Scherzer
"He attacks every hitter with his very good fastball. I like to try to hit that fastball up the middle every time, so that I can stay with his offspeed pitches that are also very good. All of his pitches are plus pitches that he can locate throughout the strike zone. So, the best thing to do is just stay on the fastball and then react to his offspeed pitches."
-- NL East outfielder

Video: Max Scherzer's fastball is one of the best

Bryce Harper
"Bryce is a good hitter, so it depends on what he's trying to do at that certain time. Obviously, if he's not going well, he's probably not staying with the ball and hitting it the other way. If he's doing that, you obviously want to stay away. But there are times when he is covering that too. Good hitters, you're going to have to attack them differently every time, depending on the approach they are taking, the week, game or even the at-bat previous."
-- NL East pitcher

Daniel Murphy
"Right now, you're going to have to really try to get the ball up and in on him. But that is a really hard pitch for pitchers to make consistently. The good ones can. If you don't throw the first pitch for a strike, there's not a lot of room for error. If you miss in, it's 1-0. If it runs back over the plate, he's going to hit it. So, it's that really small window you have because he's covering all of the areas so well that you're going to have to get ahead in order to keep going up and in. If you fall behind, you're going to have problems because he covers the plate so well."
-- NL East pitcher

Read the complete Nationals October Confidential »

Washington Nationals, Los Angeles Dodgers