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NLCS Game 2: Dave Roberts postgame interview

October 15, 2017

Q. Your bullpen's just been lights out. One batter allowed to reach base in this series. What are they doing to shut down this Cubs offense? DAVE ROBERTS: They're just executing pitches and they're ready when called upon and they're competing. It's a close-knit group down there. Josh Bard, our

Q. Your bullpen's just been lights out. One batter allowed to reach base in this series. What are they doing to shut down this Cubs offense?
DAVE ROBERTS: They're just executing pitches and they're ready when called upon and they're competing. It's a close-knit group down there. Josh Bard, our bullpen coach, has done a fantastic job with those guys, along with Rick Honeycutt. And just the preparation. Those guys know exactly what they want to do, and they're going out there and executing.
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Q. What is it about Justin Turner that he seems to rise to the occasion? Is there anyone else you'd rather have up in that spot?
DAVE ROBERTS: Absolutely not. I'm not saying he's David Ortiz, but I played with David, and you're talking about big spots and coming up big. And J.T.'s that guy for us. Yeah, he just has that pulse where he can just kind of keep his calm and stay within the strike zone. Also just not afraid to fail and just wants to be in that spot. But even that at-bat before, Chris Taylor, that at-bat to grind Lackey and keep the line moving, that was huge as well.
Q. In a high-stakes type game like this, you might see some hitters attempting to expand the strike zone, trying to get that one big hit, but your guys, it was exemplified by Taylor's walk right before J.T. What does it say about them that they're able to maintain their approach in those circumstances?
DAVE ROBERTS: I think the hitting coaches, the hitting coaches and the offensive group. There are a lot of conversations that we have as far as at-bat quality and not chasing slug. 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.
Q. Kenta in the bullpen. So if it goes to extra innings, he's available?
DAVE ROBERTS: Correct. Kenta was going to be the next pitcher.
Q. As you guys go over the course of a season and try to plot your rest for your relievers, how much of it is pointed toward October knowing that we want these guys to be fresh so we can use them every day and have the ability to do that?
Video: NLCS Gm2: Roberts discusses the Game 2 walk-off win
DAVE ROBERTS: A lot of it, and not only the pitchers, the pen, but the position players as well. It's a long season. But the way you can execute that is when you have good players and you have depth in the pen. So when you can monitor Kenley's innings, Morrow's and Fields' and all these guys and give J.T. days off and mix and match the catching situation and keep Logan fresh, and all of those guys, I think as an organization that's our philosophy. Just understanding that it takes a lot of people to get to where we want to get to. A lot of guys -- everyone feels included, relevant and a part of this. So you look into that clubhouse, and guys that are active, again, I said it last night, and there are a lot of guys that aren't active on our roster that really played huge roles for us, giving -- eating innings for us, taking at-bats, playing innings in the field. But, yeah, the organizational philosophy to not expend guys too much, understand we still have an extra month to play.
Q. So the objective is if you get to October, you want Kenley to be available every day you might need him?
DAVE ROBERTS: Absolutely. Because there have been times you look back in the season and Kenley was down. And as a manager, that's not a good feeling essentially to make that decision prior to the game that your closer's not going to pitch even in a save situation. But taking the long view, that's something that we believe as an organization.
Q. In that situation, were you surprised that Joe Maddon went to Lackey instead of Wade Davis?
DAVE ROBERTS: It's hard to question what Joe does. Joe's very good over there, and he knows his personnel considerably more than I do. But obviously he's their best back there at the back end, so we certainly liked the matchup. But, again, I don't know Wade's status. Knowing that he threw 50 pitches. But I know he was up. But, again, I'm not going to question Joe.
Q. Further to the bullpen, what's made Brandon Morrow so vital for your club, and just how reliable has he become for you?
DAVE ROBERTS: Well, he's become obviously incredibly valuable. But I think that his past of being a starter, then going as a closer, he's closed as well, so he has the ability to throw strikes. Now when you look at the stuff, the velocity is plus-plus, and the slider plus-plus. So now you take those components as far as the head, the preparation, the feel, and the pitch mix, that makes an elite back-end guy.
Q. With Rich Hill going as well as he did, dominating pretty much through five innings, what was the thought process taking him out with only 79 pitches in the game?
DAVE ROBERTS: Well, I don't think that where we're at right now in the postseason, it's not necessarily a pitch count thing for any of our guys. You're essentially counting outs and trying to get the best matchup for your guys. It goes back to the trust that we have in our pen and for each of our starters. It's a matter of giving everything you have for as long as you can. And what we do on the offensive side is pass the baton. And it's the same thing for the starter, to go as hard as you can. And for me, I just felt good with when you've got Fields, Watson, Morrow, Kenley, so the guys that we can kind of match up, I felt good about it.
Q. 29th anniversary of Gibby. How cool is that?
DAVE ROBERTS: It's very cool. And J.T., we were talking about it in there after the game, and I was waiting for the little -- this thing right here. But it's unbelievable. It's -- what did you say? 29 years to the day. It was special. Our guys feel it. We feel it. The Cubs, that's a very good ballclub. Those guys fight every pitch, and there is a reason that they're the world champions. So we feel good with where we're at, and we're going to enjoy tonight. We're going to have a workout tomorrow, get on the flight to Chicago and be ready to win a game.
Q. You guys were walking out of town tonight. Does that speak to the way you can get on base and beat different teams? It was kind of a small-ball approach tonight with sac bunts and everything?
DAVE ROBERTS: If the situation calls for it, and you're at home in a tie game, it makes sense to give up a run given who is behind the bunter. But we did a lot of things to execute tonight. It starts with the at-bat quality and when we needed it, sacrifice or get a guy over, we did that. When we needed to take a walk, we did that. And fortunately for J.T., when he got a pitch in his nitro zone, he could slug. That's what good teams do, and we've been a very good offensive team all year long. So just credit to the guys in the clubhouse.
Q. Speaking of walks, Yasiel Puig walked three times tonight. That last one proved pretty significant. What has his new-found patience meant to this lineup?
DAVE ROBERTS: For Yasiel, it's his understanding that any way to get on base is huge and to keep the line moving. 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.