Oct. 9 Dave Roberts pregame interview

Q. Dave, you have Austin Barnes starting tonight. Anything in particular about the match-up?

DAVE ROBERTS: I think with Austin it's just more of I've liked the at-bat quality. Just to be able to get a hit, spoil pitches, and with Zack who obviously is a tactician on the mound.

I think that Austin has a great way of being selective, grinding at-bats, and also just the comfort level of he and Yu. I feel comfortable with both of our catchers in that battery.

Q. Can you speak about the difficulty of winning a closeout game and how -- whether experience this team has had in that helps?

DAVE ROBERTS: I think for us it's just more of approaching it like we have each game. Yu's going to set the tone for tonight, but our hitters are going to take a certain approach, and we're aligned with our process and compete. We're rested coming off a day off. We feel good, we feel confident.

Outside of that, I don't think there is anything different for us. Every game, I think, there is a sense of urgency and the desire to play well.

Q. When Darvish has been good, and when he hasn't, how quickly have you taken to be able to tell? What are the tip-offs as far as you're concerned?

DAVE ROBERTS: Yeah, when Yu's been good, the fastball command is there. There's not as much arm-side miss with the fastball when he's been good. And obviously, conversely, when he's not, the fastball command isn't there.

So he's a guy that's got a nice mix of pitches. He can strike his breaking ball when he needs to. He can pitch to all quadrants.

So, yeah, we'll be watching for that, and just his tempo, just to make sure he keeps his tempo and rhythm. And he and Austin, I'm sure, will be mindful of that.

But that's a very good lineup over there. So you're going to have to kind of navigate your way through and execute pitches. So he's prepared, and he's excited about tonight.

Q. Alex talked a little about taking the next step this season. When did you notice that he had taken that step?

DAVE ROBERTS: Alex Wood?

Q. Yes.

DAVE ROBERTS: Well, I probably noticed it when he -- one of his first starts after we removed him from the bullpen. I know to start the season he was very disappointed that we had him start the season in the pen, and he said we'd regret it, and he proved to be right. So he earned that opportunity to get out of the pen and make starts.

You know, from the first moment that he made his starts and even out of the pen early, he was dominant. The stuff was really good. So he's had a tremendous year. I know that he's always confident and he's a very competitive person. But to really look at the stat line and see his success this year I think certainly cemented the confidence that he already had in himself.

Q. Granted it's just a couple games, what are you seeing with Cody Bellinger? Is it something they're doing to him, or is he getting a little wound up in these at-bats?

DAVE ROBERTS:
I think with Cody, there is a combo of mechanics. There is a combo of trying to do a little bit too much, and to what they're doing to him? They're not throwing him strikes. So Zack is a guy that's going to nibble and pitch around the edges, and you have to be disciplined. So obviously Yasiel behind him is swinging the bat really well, and there is damage behind Cody tonight.

But Zack is not afraid to not -- he doesn't give in. He won't give in to you. So if Cody is disciplined on the edges, it will be a good night. If he remains to be free swinging, it's going to be a tougher night for him. So he's aware of that. I've talked about it before. He's not trying to swing at balls out of the strike zone, no hitter is. But, yeah, it's a little bit slowing the game down for him.

Q. We've seen teams that maybe don't have as deep a rotation as yours in these playoffs go very early to their bullpen. With the strength of your rotation, do you still feel yourself being more aggressive with your bullpen, or is it about the same as in the regular season?

DAVE ROBERTS: Well, it's not the same as the regular season. I'm certainly more aggressive going to the pen, even though we have a strong rotation. I think that with eight guys in the pen and the off days, I think that I'm very, you know, match-ups driven and aware of that.

Yeah, in this game I'm not going to do anything for me in the postseason that's very uncharacteristic. I think that each game tells you how to respond. But it is nice to know you have eight fresh arms in the pen.

Q. Just to follow up, did Alex tell you you'll regret it, and what was that conversation like? What was your reaction to hearing that?

DAVE ROBERTS: No, no. It was just one of those things that he'll bet on himself. And so he respected our decision as an organization, he just said that at some point in time he's going to be a starter.

Our challenge to him was to go out there and pitch well, and he answered that challenge. So there was nothing that he needed to follow up on. I'm glad he made us eat our words.

Q. How much do you think the Wild Card Game disrupted the Diamondbacks' pitching, and how were you able to parlay that over the weekend in L.A.?

DAVE ROBERTS: Well, it's a do-or-die game for them, and to have to go to Robbie Ray in that spot makes sense. You have to win a game to live to fight the next day or to get to the next series. So however it affected them, Robbie, that's a question more for them.

But just from our eyes, he wasn't as sharp as he had been before, for whatever reason, and that might have been the reason.

But for us, it didn't matter if he was fresh, if he wasn't, if they were fresh or whatever emotion they were feeling, I think we were set on playing good baseball. So I really don't think that we thought too much about how it impacted them. We were just waiting to see who was going to win that game.

Q. We've seen some games in these playoffs with other teams where the starter gets knocked out early and the game kind of goes haywire and they have to go to the bullpen a lot. The experience that you had last year in Game 5 of the Division Series and kind of getting through that, how much more comfortable has that made you with that possibility, and how have you, say, refined your process of getting ready in dealing with that possibility?

DAVE ROBERTS: I think refining the process, I've got very good coaches, a front office that's very good, very intelligent, and the conversations that we have help prepare me very well. So I think that -- and going through it last year, even through the season what we went through last year in the regular season with the woes of the starting pitching and injuries and things like that kind of helped us throughout the postseason and again this year. So that's really helped the process.

That game, when you're talking about elimination, I think that the all-hands-on-deck mentality, we're not there right now, so we have to manage accordingly to whatever situation.

But a lot of it is contingent on how the starter throws. And like I said, every game there is a sense of urgency. Every game's important. But, again, having eight guys that I feel that are fresh and rested and I feel confident in, that's a very comforting feeling.

Q. We saw in Los Angeles you got the two wins, but we also saw the power that they have in their lineup. As the venue shifts here to Chase Field, it seems like they're designed and set up to play power ball here in Chase Field. What do you guys do to try to mitigate that?

DAVE ROBERTS: I think it just comes down to you and our pitchers making quality pitches, and the homers that they hit, they're mistakes. These guys can slug. It's a really good lineup.

But I think one through eight, the at-bat quality that we've put forth in these first two games, I'll bet on that. If there are mistakes on their side, I think that we can slug as well. We just really haven't yet. But I think for us, it's getting guys on base, creating stressful innings. That's kind of been the mindset for our offensive group.