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Dodgers' plate patience pays off in postseason

MLB.com

LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers' offense has made a habit this postseason of grinding out at-bats, driving up pitch counts and getting to their opponents' taxed bullpens. It's a game plan they will look to execute in the Fall Classic vs. the Astros.

"As a hitting philosophy, I think that the idea of taking balls and swinging at strikes is unilateral, something that we all believe in and it's obviously a lot easier said than done," manager Dave Roberts said Saturday during a conference call. "When you're talking about postseason baseball, you're seeing the best and so we certainly have to have that mindset going into the World Series."

LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers' offense has made a habit this postseason of grinding out at-bats, driving up pitch counts and getting to their opponents' taxed bullpens. It's a game plan they will look to execute in the Fall Classic vs. the Astros.

"As a hitting philosophy, I think that the idea of taking balls and swinging at strikes is unilateral, something that we all believe in and it's obviously a lot easier said than done," manager Dave Roberts said Saturday during a conference call. "When you're talking about postseason baseball, you're seeing the best and so we certainly have to have that mindset going into the World Series."

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Dodgers batters drew 28 walks against Cubs pitchers in five games in the National League Championship Series presented by Camping World. The Dodgers worked Chicago's arms for 820 pitches in the series and only struck out 41 times. Cubs pitchers had just come off a tiring series against the Nationals, and the Dodgers clearly looked to exploit that with a disciplined approach at the plate.

It also worked against the D-backs in the NL Division Series presented by T-Mobile, as Arizona's pitching staff had just come off a taxing Wild Card Game.

The Dodgers will certainly take a similar approach against the Astros in the World Series presented by YouTube TV. Houston is coming off a Game 7 win over the Yankees.

"There are a lot of conversations that we have as far as at-bat quality and not chasing," said Roberts, who credits hitting coach Turner Ward and assistant hitting coach Tim Hyers. "Just trying to put a good at-bat together and try to take a good swing on a good pitch. So it's a clear, consistent message, and the players are just following through."

It all starts with Chris Taylor at the top of the lineup.

"The bottom line is he stays in the strike zone," Roberts said. "To have him at the top of the order and grind pitches, to set the tone for the lineup, it's a huge piece for us."

From there, it continues with Justin Turner -- the Dodgers' best hitter -- and on down the batting order.

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"That's the way our offense has been all year," Turner said. "It's been about putting together tough ABs and passing the baton and getting to the next guy."

The trickle-down effect has even gotten to Yasiel Puig.

"For Yasiel, it's his understanding that any way to get on base is huge and to keep the line moving," Roberts said. "To trust the guys behind you to go out there and get a hit or drive a run in. And Yasiel's being so disciplined. We talk about his energy, but we talk about his focus as well. He's as focused as I've ever seen him. So the whole simplicity of taking balls and swinging at strikes, he's done a great job in the postseason."

Cubs veteran left-hander Jon Lester has made 21 postseason starts since 2007. In his Game 2 start against the Dodgers in the NLCS, Lester issued five walks in 4 2/3 innings, the most he's ever allowed in a playoff start.

"They don't chase outside the zone," Lester said. "So they're definitely a team you have to try to get out within the zone as best you can and as fast as you can, and that's a hard thing to do because they're good hitters."

Austin Laymance is a reporter for MLB.com based in Los Angeles.

Los Angeles Dodgers, Yasiel Puig, Chris Taylor, Justin Turner