October Confidential: Dodgers

Rival players offer inside look at facing NL West champions

September 22nd, 2017

How do you beat the Dodgers? MLB.com asked rival players from around Major League Baseball to offer an inside look at how best to face the National League West champions.

"He's a good high-spin, top-of-the-zone, inside fastball thrower. And he throws it for strikes. It's tough to hit a fastball coming in at you like that. I think that's what makes him so good. I think you need to back off the plate a little bit, give him that outer half and dare him to throw it inside. Because now his inside is off the plate, in, and we're taking it. But if he's hitting that spot that day on the outer half, hats off. And he's good enough to do that."

-- NL West outfielder

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"The toughest thing is that the fastball and the slider really look the same. When he's on, you can't even tell the difference between the two. And he can put them both right where he wants to."

-- NL West catcher

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"Darvish has four great pitches and uses them at any time. You can tell he does not like to give up any hits. He does not want you to put the bat on the ball. He goes after strikeouts. If his stuff is on, and the team is aggressive, he can be really good. But if you run into him with a disciplined team that takes his pitches, he could have 100 pitches through four innings. He's more of a wild card. You're either going to get eight innings with 14 strikeouts or four innings with 100 pitches and he'll be out of the game."

-- NL West infielder

Alex Wood

"He's really deceptive. Mechanics-wise, it's hard to get your timing. He throws a lively fastball, good changeup, good curve. He's herky-jerky. It's tough left-on-left, for sure, and it's not just because of the mechanics. It's tough to see the ball, but he's got really good stuff, too."

-- NL West infielder

"You know what's coming, you know it's a cutter, it's just that good. It moves that much and it breaks that late. He's very good with the location of it, where even though you know it's coming, it's still very difficult to hit. … I try to get the head out. If you let it travel, you're just going to get jammed. If you try to go the other way, you're just going to get jammed. You have to get the head out and pull him. That's the only way to hit him, as a lefty."

-- NL West infielder

"Being down is huge. And you can't show him the same thing over and over. He's able to turn on just about anything. If you watch video, you've seen him turn on 97 above his hands, so you have to figure out ways to get him out, down, sometimes below the zone."

-- NL West starter

"He's a guy who I think you can get back-foot sliders to him as a righty. He's also a guy you can elevate to, I think. But when you do that, you're playing with fire. Because he's crushed a few balls at the top of the zone. He's a tricky guy to face. But if you execute your pitches, you feel like you've got a shot."

-- NL West starter

"I think he's a little bit tougher as a left-handed hitter. He's got that pop with his down-and-in hole. You want to avoid that spot, maybe get him to chase a little bit of stuff in the dirt. But he's a great hitter. He can leave the yard at any time, which makes him a tough hitter to face."

-- NL West reliever

"He always seems to swing at the first pitch. He doesn't hesitate to swing early. But no matter what you throw, he seems to stay on the ball. … He's tough because you almost know he's going to swing at the first pitch. But if you throw a breaking ball, he'll stay right on that breaking ball. He's good at recognizing the breaking ball. He's great at recognizing pitches. So you have to be careful with what you throw early. He's got power to all fields."

-- NL West starter

"He doesn't seem like he's trying to do too much when he swings. He's a difficult guy to strike out, because he always stays within himself."

-- NL West reliever

"He just seems like he always puts the barrel on the ball. He gets really close to the plate, so the way I attacked him was down and in, up and in, then maybe go down and away after you've done that. You have to try to get him to chase your [breaking pitches], which he doesn't chase much. But he'll hit your fastball."

-- NL West starter