DAVE ROBERTS: I think the thing with Clayton is you see the fifth day, the day he got his start day, but what I learned to really appreciate is the four days in between, and the intent, the attention to detail, the focus, and that's what really makes him great and consistent.
Yeah, I've seen him on the other side a lot and he's beat many of the teams that I was on the opposite end of. To see him on the day-to-day is really impressive, and so, you know, there's no other person I'd rather have on the mound tomorrow night.
Q. At what point in September did you start to feel comfortable that Kershaw could be himself?
DAVE ROBERTS: It was probably after the Yankee game in New York, and there was a rain delay, a couple rain delays. And for him to go underneath in the tunnel, throw simulated innings, and then to finish that start and to get his pitch count up; and the next day, to come back and say, I feel the normal soreness that I normally would, I think that was a big exhale for all of us.
You know, we tried to approach his whole season once Clayton went down that there's a good possibility that he might not be back. But after that start, then we were much more confident.
Q. Clayton's side-arm look has been getting a lot of attention. He's just dropping it in there every once in a while. Did you know about that ahead of time? Did he talk about it or did we all learn about it together?
DAVE ROBERTS: I had no idea. I don't even know if Honey knew about it. So I guess this Rich Hill thing is contagious. So the velocity, I think we saw some 95s and 96s. Clayton said he used to throw like that in high school, so it just adds another element to a hitter and he's got some swing and miss with that pitch.
So as long as he feels good with it, but I don't think that -- it's one of those things that I don't think it's premeditated. I think at some point he's got to decide he's going to drop down and give those guys a different look. It's pretty impressive.
Q. Have you set a lineup for tomorrow and specifically left fielder?
DAVE ROBERTS: Yeah, tomorrow, I don't know the exact way we're going to construct the lineup. It's going to look a lot like we've done it.
But Andrew Toles is going to start in left field. And where he hits in the order, I haven't decided yet.
Q. This is going to be the first post-season series managed by two African-American managers. What, if any significance, do you place in that?
DAVE ROBERTS: It's obviously, it's important, and it doesn't go unnoticed or underappreciated. I think speaking for Dusty, myself, what it means to the game of baseball, to society. You know, but I think when it comes down to it, right now, he and I, we're just focused on winning a series.
I think that when we look back, it's really -- it's going to be more special, but I definitely know it's certainly noted, and not to go unappreciated.
Q. You won five of six games against this team this year, but both teams are obviously different now heading into this series. What impresses you most about what you see on the other side of the field?
DAVE ROBERTS: I think a lot of what impresses me is a lot of what we had to endure, as well, in the sense that we've had our share of adversities and injuries. But Dusty is one of the best in the game at keeping the clubhouse together, keeping guys playing together.
You know, you hear things, and you see the way these guys play, they have stuck together. They haven't made excuses for certain injuries, nor have we. I think that's the thing that's probably, not surprised me, but probably most impressed me. But if you look at this club, they really slug. So I think that's something that we are certainly mindful of, of trying to keep these guys in the ballpark.
Q. Have you spent any time looking at Clayton's previous post-season starts, and, successful or not, is that anything that you've spent any time on?
DAVE ROBERTS: No, I haven't. I remember; I recall -- you know, I recall the starts, some of them. But as far as digging into his successes or, you know, certain starts that probably didn't go his way, I don't read too much into it and haven't looked back on it. I don't think it has any bearing on post-season, this post-season, the start tomorrow. And I really don't think Clayton cares either.
All things are one pitch here, one pitch there, so like I said, I'd rather have nobody on the mound tomorrow than Clayton Kershaw. The Nationals are a different club. Everything is -- the world's changed from that point to this point, so we've got complete clarity in tomorrow.
Q. What do you need to see in Clayton tomorrow to decide that he's your man for the fourth game, or either go to Julio?
DAVE ROBERTS: Well, I think that having Clayton, he's done that before. So it's an option.
But to your question, it's more on how his start goes tomorrow, usage, stress, and come Game 4, where we're at in the series and I think that's obviously got to play a factor. But regardless, we have a lot of confidence in Julio and he's given us some valuable innings. Pitched well against these guys.
I think right now we are doing a good job of just focusing on Game 1 and seeing how that plays out. But to know it's an option, I think is a good thing.
Q. Is the bigger issue with Clayton in Game 4 where you guys stand in the series or just whether or not he responds enough to be able to take the assignment? Because either way, it's going to be, you know, you're facing elimination or trying to finish it up.
DAVE ROBERTS: Well, I think that probably the number one is physical. I think that obviously if the trainers and doctors don't feel that it makes sense for Clayton, then that takes it off the table.
Obviously the competitor that he is, certainly he's done it, he's talked about it. But I think to be prudent, just to play it out -- but to your question, yeah, the health is number one. And like you said, Game 4, regardless of being up 2-1, being down 2-1, it's still a very important game.
So all in all, probably the health obviously overrides any decision.
Q. Last time you guys played the Nationals Trea Turner just started becoming an everyday player for them. What do remember about him from that series and what have seen from him from afar?
DAVE ROBERTS: I think he's become a lot more comfortable being a Major League player. And we've all known how dynamic he is as a player. I think he's become a lot more aggressive at the plate and he's playing a different position.
I think he might have just started playing center field, maybe. So he's probably a little bit more comfortable out there right now in center field.
But at the plate, he's aggressive. But you just see the confidence. And even seeing him when he first signed, when I had him in spring training, he was a confident young man, and you know, obviously the skill set, the speed plays. But he's a baseball player, so I think a big part of our success is going to be keeping him off the bases.
Q. What have you seen different about Yasiel Puig since he came back from Triple-A?
DAVE ROBERTS: Yasiel, one thing is if you are just looking at the baseball side of things is mechanics of his swing is considerably better; the quality of at-bat better. And far as the teammate aspect, just accepting any role that I have for him.
We have a lot of guys that feel they should be everyday players and should be playing every inning of every game; and that's a good thing. But Yasiel is resigned to the fact that he's ready when he's called upon. He will get that start against Gio.
But, you know, with post-season baseball, there's going to be match-ups that I'm going to be playing, and so guys that don't start games will certainly have a huge impact on the game at some point.
Q. You weren't around for Joc's season last year, how have you seen him grow this year?
DAVE ROBERTS: Joc's season last year was obviously a tale of two stories, and I saw him from the other side. But I will say from the conversations that we've had all year long, I've seen Joc grow with his maturity; and the teammates, Justin Turner, Chase Utley, a lot of those guys have a lot to do with it; Adrian.
But the one thing that I get from Joc this year versus last year is he's a lot more comfortable in the clubhouse. And that's important. That's really important for any player, let alone a young player, to get the most out of their talent is to be comfortable.
He relates well with his teammates, the coaching staff. And I think for him to be comfortable and to voice that, speaks volumes.