Q. What is it about Kenley Jansen that makes him not only able to have five-out saves, like what Dave asked him to do last night, but let's him thrive in situations like that?
YASMANI GRANDAL: 98-mile-per-hour cutter.
Q. Anything about his mentality --
YASMANI GRANDAL: No. 98-mile-per-hour cutter.
Q. This is your second year as a catcher for the Dodgers, a team that traditionally has very good pitching. Can you talk a little bit about handling that pitching staff and what things you have learned about people there, especially Kershaw?
YASMANI GRANDAL: For me, not only for me, but all the backstops this year, it was a challenge, especially when Kershaw wasn't there. It kind of put it on us to do a good job behind the plate, throw down the right fingers to win games and keep us in the games. Even when the starters weren't having good games, you know, their relievers were coming in and doing a good job. So it was a process. It was sticking with a plan and believing in the plan, and you know, the plan got us here.
So you know, as to with Kershaw, you know, it's Kershaw. He's going to do what he's going to do. A lot of times he's going to call his own game. He's going to throw what he wants and what he feels like that's working that day. And you are just making suggestions.
At certain times, you make the right suggestion and he's going to go with it. But more times than not, he's probably going to throw the pitch he wants to throw. If he thinks that a fastball is better than his slider at a certain point, that's what he's going to go to. If he thinks his slider is better than his fastball at a certain point, that's what he's going to go to.
If you look back at the at-bat yesterday against Espinosa to strike him out, and throw down a 2, and he kind of double-looks just to make sure that's exactly what he saw. Right there, it just tells me that he wasn't thinking about a curveball. He was probably thinking about a fastball. But curveball might have been in the back of his head, so as soon as I called it, that's what he went to.
But yeah, I mean, our pitching staff has done a great job, especially the bullpen. So it was nice to see them come in and shut the door down yesterday.
Q. With Rich, he has so many different arm angles and the pace of his delivery, like do you have an idea of if he's going to be dropping down, if he's going to be coming more over the top with each pitch, or do you call fastball, curveball, wait to see how it comes towards you?
YASMANI GRANDAL: It's fun to catch Rich just because of, like you said, all the angles and how much movement he has got on his fastball and his curveball. It seems like he has got five different curveballs and three different fastballs.
So that aspect of a game is pretty fun for me to do it. I don't know about other people, but you know, at times it's a little bit challenging just to, you know, you don't know what his curveball is going to do when he drops down. You don't know what his curveball is going to do when he's throwing it over the top.
At times it is a little challenging just to catch the ball to try and help him out behind home plate, and to make sure that I help him out doing what I'm capable of doing behind home plate. Like the stats said, framing is one of the top things in the league right now.
You know, my challenge, basically, each and every day, is making sure that I'm prepared to help him; if I'm able to get a couple strikes here and there, then that's always a good thing.
Q. With all the injuries to the pitching staff this season, how important has Kenta Maeda's consistency been to the season?
YASMANI GRANDAL: Kenta has been great. There's nothing else you could ask for. You know, he started the year off, and basically, we had a plan for him. We're going to let him do what he wanted to do. And then we were going to start putting in little by little what we thought he should do.
Obviously at the beginning of the season, his fastball wasn't there. He just had no command, so he just went straight to his slider. Obviously his slider was his one pitch he was going to get everybody out.
At the time that happened, you know, the league started getting adjusted to it. He got a couple bad outings and he kind of figured out, hey, I can't live with my slider only. I've got to start using other pitches, and that's when his fastball and his changeup came. And the fact that he was able to do that; that he was able to adjust to the League and battle.
You look back at the Mets game where he gets hit in the hand and he still throws six strong innings. You look back at St. Louis where it's 100 degrees and 90 percent humidity; it's probably one of those situations where he's never been on, and he gives up a big, I think two or three home runs -- and he's still throwing six and seven innings, and he's mad at himself because he thought he didn't have a good outing.
But yeah, he's been really good for us the whole year. Hopefully he continues to be good throughout the post-season. Being the first post-season he's ever been in in the Major Leagues, I feel like it's going to be fun for him, and at the same time it's going to be fun for us.
Q. You've had some hot streaks offensively. How much is that tied to the injuries that you might be dealing with, and how difficult is it to be an offensive contributor as a catcher when you take that kind of abuse every day?
YASMANI GRANDAL: I mean, I guess it's my fault, because I picked this position. I picked this spot. I'll take a shutout; I'll take a no-hitter, I'll take a perfect game over hitting .350 in one certain year.
It's just for me, it makes me sleep better when I know I'm doing a good job behind the plate instead of hitting. You know, if I hit, that's just one of those things where it's a plus. But if I don't, and we come out with a win, I'm still sleeping nice and tight. It's just those nights where, you know, we don't win, then I feel like we need to do more or what we could have done differently and things like that that keep me up at night.
That's the hard part about being a catcher. Not really being injured. It's just part of game, part of the position that you're playing. It's going to happen. You're going to get hit. If you think about it too much, it's just going to make it worse.
Q. Going back to Kenta, the fact that he didn't face the Nationals during the regular season and the fact that he's evolved so much, like you mentioned, from the beginning of the year to the end, how much of an advantage do you think that can be for you guys?
YASMANI GRANDAL: Didn't he face them in L.A.?
Q. He didn't.
YASMANI GRANDAL: He didn't? Great (laughter), awesome. How about we talk about this after he pitches on Monday.
Q. Is there a different game plan in place with Rich to pick a time to get him warmed up, or is there a concern about the blister with the weather?
YASMANI GRANDAL: I don't know. Not really worried about his blister right now. I feel like, you know, we got him to a point where, you know, the blister needs to be taken care of or it should be ready to go already, you know.
We're in the post-season. You know, I feel like if he has to go 100 pitches, 115 pitches, I feel like he's going to go and do it. I mean, it's not going to be, you know, we're going to get you out after the seventh when you're throwing a perfect game, you know, with 80 pitches.
This is the post-season. It doesn't matter how long you're going to go. If he's looking strong, I mean, we've got to keep him there. We've got to win a game.
Q. As a catcher, is there anything you can do to prepare for a team or a player who steals a lot of bases, or is that something you just have to wait till they go and react the best you can?
YASMANI GRANDAL: No, not really. I mean, anybody that knows baseball knows that, you know, the runner steals the base off the pitcher. If you're quick to the plate, and you give a chance, you're probably going to throw him out.
You know, there's the exception of Billy Hamilton where you call a pitch on him and he's still safe at second. You probably have a handful of guys that can do that. But for the most part, if you get a good jump and you get it off the pitcher, you're going to be safe, especially if you're fast.
So the catcher can't really worry about that. That's when you start throwing the ball away and making errors. I'm not really worried about that.
If you're referring to Trea Turner, I've seen him. We've studied him. We've scouted him. But the fact that he is fast, you know, he's fast. When I was in San Diego, he was drafted one overall. I saw his highlight reel. Josh Byrnes came up to me and he was very excited about him. I've seen this guy play. It's not -- it's not news that the guy can play and he's fast.
Q. It seems like every time Clayton pitches, somebody brings up A.J. Ellis. How have you dealt with all of that?
YASMANI GRANDAL: The way I see it, obviously if I was one of the best pitchers, if not the best pitcher in the world, and I had as much success as I had with a guy behind the plate, you know, obviously it would be hard for somebody to get away from that.
So you know, I don't really think about it. I mean, obviously A.J. did a great job kind of getting Kershaw by the hand when he first got to the big leagues and making him into the pitcher that he is today.
But at the same time, if Kersh wouldn't work as hard as he works, kept his routine that he does now, he probably would not be in the spot where he is right now. You look at a guy who four days in between starts is literally doing something every single hour of every single minute, I mean, he's doing something to get better. He wants to get better. You know, it's pretty hard to say for a guy who has done as much as he has. He has an MVP. He's got a 20-plus-win year. He's got a couple of Cy Youngs. He's been an All-Star.
But to see a guy prepare the way he does, I mean, he was going to be good no matter what. So the way I see it is I'm going to try and do as good as I can do back there to help him out. If it's getting a strike here and there; if it's getting the chemistry on the same page, but yeah, I'm going to do as much as I can do.
There's no doubt that A.J. did a great job with him, but you can't really think about that. That's in the past. We live in the present and we're always thinking about the future.