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Oct. 7 Dave Roberts pregame interview

MLB.com

Q. With the lineup for Game 1, a lot of left-handers in there against Scherzer, the difficulty, if at all, of putting Toles, being a left-hander, over Howie with the veteran experience?

DAVE ROBERTS: You know what, I think that with Andrew, I like the defense out there in a big left field. I like the athleticism, and he's shown he can hit right-handed pitching and get on the fastball.

So I felt comfortable having Howie on the bench, and I expect him to get in the game at some point in time. But you know, Scherzer, the left/right splits, I think that really favor the left-hand hitters. So he's tough regardless, but sort of went the matchup route there.

Q. You mentioned Kendrick there. How does having a guy who can play multiple positions for you help a manager, and does it take maybe a special kind of makeup for a guy to be comfortable and willing and available to play a different spot every day, if that's what's needed?

DAVE ROBERTS: Absolutely. I think there's two sides. You look at the skill set as one, and Howie is a guy that came up as a second baseman, but he can play third. He can play -- he's played left for us a lot. So the ability, the flexibility, he hits left-handed pitching, right handed pitching, he's been an everyday player his entire career.

The other component is the buy-in, the unselfishness, and I think that's probably the single most thing that's helped him have the year that he's had and really given me flexibility for me to use the roster as best I see for us. I've hit him in different part of the lineup, played him in different positions, double-switched him.

If you look at a person that's given me the most flexibility, it certainly is Howie.

Q. With Seager, how much does his experience from last year help, do you think? And in general, on his rookie year, have you seen a rookie with just the ability and kind of put togetherness that he seems to have?

DAVE ROBERTS: To the last question, I haven't seen a rookie do what he's done, make the impact that he has; the growth; he doesn't scare off. He's been our most consistent player all year long, and he's out there virtually every night playing a premium defensive position.

You know, then last year, yeah, to get some post-season experience and to now come back a year later, I'm sure last year, as a September call-up, I'm sure this year he's a lot more comfortable.

The great thing about our team is it's not one person. You can look at Corey and see what he can do, and he's a special player. But 1 through 8, the pitching, the pen, it allows all of our players, including Corey, to do what they can do.

Q. Dusty brought up the idea that he hopes the umpires keep an eye on Kershaw, because he feels like he balks when he has runners on base. I was just curious, in your opinion, who on the Nationals roster gets away with balking the most often and you would like the umpires to keep an eye on?

DAVE ROBERTS: Yeah, I didn't know Dusty wanted to play that game, but - well, first to the question, it's a little gamesmanship. Clayton has been around a long time. His move's been the same. I think he's been called for a balk a couple times. But I don't think they are going to be surprised.

Yeah, you know what, there's a couple guys that I might put a bug in the umpire's areas, as well, start with Melancon maybe, Kelly, Rzepczynski. I think Gio has got one, too. So we'll see.

Q. You have Yasmani a little lower in the lineup than we've seen in the last 20 games or so. Is there a reason for that?

DAVE ROBERTS: I think it gives us a little length, a little more length, and it also -- you know, the idea of beating the starter but also protecting against a potential match-up in the pen for them, and so -- for our bench. So it gives us a little flexibility. And just thinking through it, I like the balance.

Q. Back to Dusty. In the NBA, coaches troll the referees all the time. In baseball, you don't see it much. Does it work in baseball to troll an umpire before a game?

DAVE ROBERTS: Well, I think Dusty is going to try. Yeah, it does, and I think that there's a little bit of banter with umpires, you know, home plate umpires.

But I think that you might see it from both sides of the dugout this series. But to the extent of how much it works, I don't think it does (smiling).

Q. I know it's hard to probably put into words a couple of hours prior to the game, but what emotions do you anticipate taking the field for the first time in a playoff series as a manager?

DAVE ROBERTS: You know what, I think that I'm going to take a quick moment. But I think that I know myself very well in the sense that when I get too outside of the moment, then nerves and things start to speed up.

So I'll appreciate the moment, but I think then after that, I'll get back into preparing our guys and managing one baseball game. And I think that for me, for our players, that's kind of the sentiment that we've had all year long, a sentiment that no matter how big the moment is, go out there to win that day.

Obviously it's a big series. It's a big game. But it's just easier for all of us to just focus on doing what we do best.

Q. Have you taken any time to appreciate Rich Hill's story, and what's impressed you the most in the brief time you've spent with him?

DAVE ROBERTS: I think the thing that's impressed me most about Rich are two things. One thing is his intent; everything he does every day is for a purpose, and I didn't appreciate that not knowing him. And how intense he is on his pens, not only his start days, but his pens.

The other thing I appreciate is admitting his growth as a player, as a person, in the sense that as a young player, as a cub, a lot of distractions got to him and things that were out of his control. But I think that now when you watch Rich and talk to Rich, he lives in the moment. And I think that that lends itself to just pitching with conviction on every single pitch.

And for a starting pitcher to go out there and 110 pitches, to make with conviction, that's very difficult. And so Rich, the guy we got going tonight, he does that, as well.

So I think those two things were really surprising and were things that I was really -- it was good for me to hear.

Q. In terms of Scherzer, is there a particular approach you want to see from your guys against him, knowing the way he likes to pitch?

DAVE ROBERTS: There's an approach that we're going to come up with. I don't want to go too much into it. But you know, we know the pitch mix. We know that he elevates the fastball. We know he's got a slider, change. And when he's on, it's going to be tough. He works both parts of the plate, pitches up in the zone.

So I think that, you know, we've got to have a plan and you know, when he makes a mistake, we've got to execute. We've got to capitalize. So when you look at Kershaw and Scherzer and the elite pitchers we're going to see in the post-season, they are elite because they don't make a lot of mistakes.

Yeah, you have to have a plan and be stubborn with it and hope that when he makes a mistake, we can capitalize on it.

Q. How ready are you for this to finally be here, with all of the anticipation and everything that's happened?

DAVE ROBERTS: We are. We are. We're very -- I think that we're primed and ready, a little anxiousness. Just where we are at physically and, you know, there's some games already been played and guys are in tune with the post-season, so now it's our turn.

Q. With the lineup for Game 1, a lot of left-handers in there against Scherzer, the difficulty, if at all, of putting Toles, being a left-hander, over Howie with the veteran experience?

DAVE ROBERTS: You know what, I think that with Andrew, I like the defense out there in a big left field. I like the athleticism, and he's shown he can hit right-handed pitching and get on the fastball.

So I felt comfortable having Howie on the bench, and I expect him to get in the game at some point in time. But you know, Scherzer, the left/right splits, I think that really favor the left-hand hitters. So he's tough regardless, but sort of went the matchup route there.

Q. You mentioned Kendrick there. How does having a guy who can play multiple positions for you help a manager, and does it take maybe a special kind of makeup for a guy to be comfortable and willing and available to play a different spot every day, if that's what's needed?

DAVE ROBERTS: Absolutely. I think there's two sides. You look at the skill set as one, and Howie is a guy that came up as a second baseman, but he can play third. He can play -- he's played left for us a lot. So the ability, the flexibility, he hits left-handed pitching, right handed pitching, he's been an everyday player his entire career.

The other component is the buy-in, the unselfishness, and I think that's probably the single most thing that's helped him have the year that he's had and really given me flexibility for me to use the roster as best I see for us. I've hit him in different part of the lineup, played him in different positions, double-switched him.

If you look at a person that's given me the most flexibility, it certainly is Howie.

Q. With Seager, how much does his experience from last year help, do you think? And in general, on his rookie year, have you seen a rookie with just the ability and kind of put togetherness that he seems to have?

DAVE ROBERTS: To the last question, I haven't seen a rookie do what he's done, make the impact that he has; the growth; he doesn't scare off. He's been our most consistent player all year long, and he's out there virtually every night playing a premium defensive position.

You know, then last year, yeah, to get some post-season experience and to now come back a year later, I'm sure last year, as a September call-up, I'm sure this year he's a lot more comfortable.

The great thing about our team is it's not one person. You can look at Corey and see what he can do, and he's a special player. But 1 through 8, the pitching, the pen, it allows all of our players, including Corey, to do what they can do.

Q. Dusty brought up the idea that he hopes the umpires keep an eye on Kershaw, because he feels like he balks when he has runners on base. I was just curious, in your opinion, who on the Nationals roster gets away with balking the most often and you would like the umpires to keep an eye on?

DAVE ROBERTS: Yeah, I didn't know Dusty wanted to play that game, but - well, first to the question, it's a little gamesmanship. Clayton has been around a long time. His move's been the same. I think he's been called for a balk a couple times. But I don't think they are going to be surprised.

Yeah, you know what, there's a couple guys that I might put a bug in the umpire's areas, as well, start with Melancon maybe, Kelly, Rzepczynski. I think Gio has got one, too. So we'll see.

Q. You have Yasmani a little lower in the lineup than we've seen in the last 20 games or so. Is there a reason for that?

DAVE ROBERTS: I think it gives us a little length, a little more length, and it also -- you know, the idea of beating the starter but also protecting against a potential match-up in the pen for them, and so -- for our bench. So it gives us a little flexibility. And just thinking through it, I like the balance.

Q. Back to Dusty. In the NBA, coaches troll the referees all the time. In baseball, you don't see it much. Does it work in baseball to troll an umpire before a game?

DAVE ROBERTS: Well, I think Dusty is going to try. Yeah, it does, and I think that there's a little bit of banter with umpires, you know, home plate umpires.

But I think that you might see it from both sides of the dugout this series. But to the extent of how much it works, I don't think it does (smiling).

Q. I know it's hard to probably put into words a couple of hours prior to the game, but what emotions do you anticipate taking the field for the first time in a playoff series as a manager?

DAVE ROBERTS: You know what, I think that I'm going to take a quick moment. But I think that I know myself very well in the sense that when I get too outside of the moment, then nerves and things start to speed up.

So I'll appreciate the moment, but I think then after that, I'll get back into preparing our guys and managing one baseball game. And I think that for me, for our players, that's kind of the sentiment that we've had all year long, a sentiment that no matter how big the moment is, go out there to win that day.

Obviously it's a big series. It's a big game. But it's just easier for all of us to just focus on doing what we do best.

Q. Have you taken any time to appreciate Rich Hill's story, and what's impressed you the most in the brief time you've spent with him?

DAVE ROBERTS: I think the thing that's impressed me most about Rich are two things. One thing is his intent; everything he does every day is for a purpose, and I didn't appreciate that not knowing him. And how intense he is on his pens, not only his start days, but his pens.

The other thing I appreciate is admitting his growth as a player, as a person, in the sense that as a young player, as a cub, a lot of distractions got to him and things that were out of his control. But I think that now when you watch Rich and talk to Rich, he lives in the moment. And I think that that lends itself to just pitching with conviction on every single pitch.

And for a starting pitcher to go out there and 110 pitches, to make with conviction, that's very difficult. And so Rich, the guy we got going tonight, he does that, as well.

So I think those two things were really surprising and were things that I was really -- it was good for me to hear.

Q. In terms of Scherzer, is there a particular approach you want to see from your guys against him, knowing the way he likes to pitch?

DAVE ROBERTS: There's an approach that we're going to come up with. I don't want to go too much into it. But you know, we know the pitch mix. We know that he elevates the fastball. We know he's got a slider, change. And when he's on, it's going to be tough. He works both parts of the plate, pitches up in the zone.

So I think that, you know, we've got to have a plan and you know, when he makes a mistake, we've got to execute. We've got to capitalize. So when you look at Kershaw and Scherzer and the elite pitchers we're going to see in the post-season, they are elite because they don't make a lot of mistakes.

Yeah, you have to have a plan and be stubborn with it and hope that when he makes a mistake, we can capitalize on it.

Q. How ready are you for this to finally be here, with all of the anticipation and everything that's happened?

DAVE ROBERTS: We are. We are. We're very -- I think that we're primed and ready, a little anxiousness. Just where we are at physically and, you know, there's some games already been played and guys are in tune with the post-season, so now it's our turn.