October Confidential: Nationals

Rival players offer inside look at facing NL East champions

October Confidential: Nationals

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

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

Scherzer's fastball is elite

Tanner Roark
"He throws his fastball and two-seam changeup with the same exact motion and on the same exact plane. So it's very hard to differentiate. Then he also has the big curveball that he can throw for strikes and to make you chase. He has the ability to front-door you, so it's very hard to pull the trigger with two strikes. He's not a guy you look at and say, 'Whoa.' But it seems like he gives up two runs or less every time out."
-- NL East infielder

Game Date Matchup Highlights
Gm 1 Oct. 7 LAD 4, WAS 3 video
Gm 2 Oct. 9 WSH 5, LAD 2 video
Gm 3 Oct. 10 WAS 8, LAD 3 video
Gm 4 Oct. 11 LAD 6, WAS 5 video
Gm 5 Oct. 13 LAD 4, WSH 3 video

Gio Gonzalez
"He likes to elevate, and when he has that curveball going, he's very, very tough. The last three or four starts against us, he used the left-on-left changeup against me. He doesn't use it very often, so it becomes a very good pitch if he throws it for strikes. When he's commanding his fastball, he's good because he can go out and then throw the two-seamer [in on lefties]. He's also got that curveball coming off that same plane."
-- NL East infielder

Mark Melancon
"He has one of the best cutters in the game right now. So I just try to stay a little bit off the plate and then look away or middle, because I know those pitches will break in to me and it will be something I can handle and hit up the middle."
-- NL East outfielder

Melancon shuts the door

Shawn Kelley
"He's got a slider that he throws a lot and he has a great feel for it. He'll throw you some front-door sliders and then try to make you chase it away. He also does enough with his fastball to keep you from just thinking slider during every at-bat. He seems to be able to see who is looking for that slider as opposed to guys who come to the plate with the mindset to also look for the fastball."
-- NL East infielder

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

Martinez strikes out Murphy

Trea Turner
"He's a very tough out. You just have to attack him away. He hits the inside pitch pretty well. If you want to go in there, you have to go in there early and then stay away late, because his hands are so quick. You have to try to let him beat you away, and I think you can elevate with him at any time. He fouls pitches off and is a tough out. You can try to feed him curveballs and sliders in the dirt with the hope he swings because he'll battle you deep into counts and his speed makes walks potentially more costly."
-- NL East pitcher