October Confidential: Nationals

Rival players offer inside look at facing the 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 NL East champions.

Stephen Strasburg
"You have to sit on his fastball. I would. To me, I wouldn't even let him get to his breaking ball, to be honest with you. That's what we try to do. We try to get on his fastball. Because he's got good stuff, yes. He's a fastball pitcher. Therefore you have to sit on the fastball because if you get into the breaking balls it's going to be very tough."
-- NL East coach

Jordan Zimmermann
"That's a tough one. Because he mixes up his pitches real well. The key with him is we try to make him get the ball up in the zone. And, again, I feel you have to attack him early. Because if you sit back and let him get settled it's going to be a tough day for you. To me, out of that staff, he's the toughest one. Somebody was asking me who they should start, and shoot, I would start Zimmermann before I would start Strasburg."
-- NL East coach

  Date Time Matchup Highlights
Gm 1 Oct. 3   SF 3, WAS 2 video
Gm 2 Oct. 4   SF 2, WAS 1 (18 inn.) video
Gm 3 Oct. 6   WAS 4, SF 1 video
Gm 4 Oct. 7   SF 3, WAS 2 video

Gio Gonzalez  
"We laid off his breaking ball and attacked the fastball. Try to eliminate the slider. Because if he gets it up you can hit it, but if he gets it down, it's tough. It all goes back to getting him on the fastball. You've got to be patient with him. Because when he gets guys in scoring position, he can throw a certain pitch to get that ball in the infield. If you get the slider down ..."
-- NL East coach

Doug Fister
"You have to try to slow him down. Because he works so fast. Stepping out of the box, stepping out. Because if you sit there and let him get in a rhythm, he'll get you. You've got to be aggressive on the fastball, too. You have to make all of them get the ball up. You cannot chase. That'll be a big key. If you can get them to get the ball up, you can get them."
-- NL East coach

Rafael Soriano
"If his slider isn't working ... we've got to try to get him before he gets to the cutter. I know it sounds elementary. I know it sounds simple. But when I look at video, whenever they get to him they try to get to him before he gets to the cutter."
-- NL East coach

Tyler Clippard
"Get the ball up. The main objective is get the ball up in the zone."
-- NL East coach

Drew Storen
"Storen is a little different. He comes right at you. If I'm in there, I'm attacking the first good fastball I see."
-- NL East coach

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Bryce Harper
"He wants to jump on the fastball first. Probably late in the count he's looking for something soft. You can finish him either hard in or hard away or you can go up in the zone. But early in the count, you can throw breaking balls."
-- NL East pitcher 1

"Pitch in, cut in, got to keep him honest in, and then get him out away. You can cut him in ... Throw him a lot of back-door cutters. I've had success with that, too. With him, he's everything, I guess."
-- NL East pitcher 2

Anthony Rendon
"Rendon, I think he's arguably their best hitter. He has a really good approach. A lot of guys have physical talent, but the ones that separate themselves are the ones with the mental ability. I think Rendon's a pretty smart cat at the plate. He doesn't have the same approach every time. He kind of adjusts based on what you've done and what he thinks you're going to do. I think that's probably one of his biggest strengths. And he can hit the ball to all fields. He can pull when he wants and he can go the other way when he wants to, too. He handles the bat really well, so he's a tough one to get out."
-- NL East pitcher 3

"Patient hitter. For the most part from what I've seen, he takes strike one. But I think he's a better hitter after he takes strike one. He knows the zone. You need to get him out early. If you get deep in the count with him, he's going to hurt you so you've got to get him out early, on three or four pitchers."
-- NL East pitcher 1

"Good hitter. Rendon's tough, too. I've had success away. He's had some hits off me in. You've got to keep guys honest in, but if you go in, you've got to go way in and then stay away -- curveball, changeup down. And he'll chase up, too, if you get him to two strikes."
-- NL East pitcher 2

Jayson Werth
"His bat stays in the zone forever. He's a guy that, you kind of have to set him up each and every at-bat, because he can cover [the plate]. His bat's in the zone so long that if you throw him off-speed stuff he can still cover it, especially down, so he can stay hard on the fastball. But he has the ability to still make quality contact on offs-peed stuff as well."
-- NL East pitcher 3

"It's tough. You have go in and out with him and mix everything. He's strong. You just have to attack all parts of the zone."
-- NL East pitcher 1

"Every time I try to go in, you've got to go in deep, because I feel like he's looking in. Most of the time I've gotten him out, it's away. But he's another guy you've got to throw everything at. He's patient. You've got to get ahead, but be careful because he'll ambush you."
-- NL East pitcher 2

Denard Span
"I think the most improved one for them is Span, for sure. He still does the little dip with his body, but he doesn't do the dip with his hands like he did last year. I think that's helped him a lot. He does this thing where he bounces down and back for his load, and now he's just doing it with his legs instead of with his hands, too. It's helped him stay on off-speed stuff as well as make quality contact more often and not miss as many pitches. It's been tougher facing him, for sure."
-- NL East pitcher 3

"Typical leadoff hitter. He can turn on a pitch, he can hit the ball the other way, he can bunt for a hit. You've just got to mix it up, try to keep him off base because you know he's going to cause havoc on the bases with his speed."
-- NL East pitcher 4

"Span's tough. He doesn't stride a lot ... You've got to mix it up. Pitch deep in -- I think you can get him out in -- then stay down and away."
-- NL East pitcher 2

Adam LaRoche
"Do not throw him a hanging breaking ball. He'll hit that out. But you can go changeups away, fastballs away. He's off the plate so much and he's open, so if you want to go in, you have to go in on his hands. You can finish him up, too."
-- NL East pitcher 1

"Cut in, keep him honest and then stay away, changeup away. I feel like curveball's better than a cutter from a righty."
-- NL East pitcher 2

Ian Desmond
"He's not going to get cheated on a fastball. He's waiting for fastballs, coming out of his shoes. Use his aggressiveness to your advantage. Slow him down, speed him up. Just mix speeds."
-- NL East pitcher 1

"Desmond's an ambusher. He'll swing early. He's aggressive. He's a guy that you've got to go in off the plate and get him out away."
-- NL East pitcher 2

Asdrubal Cabrera
"He's your guy that will be a contact guy when he needs to. He plays the game, plays situations. When he needs to move a guy over, he'll move a guy over, so you have to go after him. Don't get too locked into one pitch. Can't go back-to-back pitches because he'll sit on it. So mix them, go in and out."
-- NL East pitcher

Wilson Ramos
"Strong. Real strong. He's in an open stance so you think he likes the ball in, but he likes the ball away. You have to pound him in with sinkers, fastballs, and once you get him conscious in, you can go away."
-- NL East pitcher 1