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October 7, 2019

Dave Roberts

Washington D.C. - pregame 4

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. At what point were you convinced that Rich Hill could pitch in the postseason?
DAVE ROBERTS: His last start against San Francisco, it looked good, came out of it well, the side session after that, trainers, Rich, his own words, his confidence level, my eyes seeing how it looks, all that gave us the confidence that he deserves to make this start and we feel good about whatever length he can give us.

Q. Kiké was just in here. He's, over the years, he's had a lot of peaks and valleys, but he's been one of your many moving parts on this team. What over the years has given you the confidence that he can get out of those valleys and do the things like did he last night for you?
DAVE ROBERTS: The thing about Kiké, along with a lot of our guys that you feel good about is that number one, their talent; number two, the preparedness. And so, yeah, there's been spikes and really productive play and not so productive.

But when a guy prepares the way he does and understands his role on a team. And sometimes it's more expanded and that's with a lot of our guys. But in a certain spot you feel that a certain matchup, you feel good. And whether it's Kiké, it's Freeser, it's Taylor, and these guys are, have done this quite often, for years. So they understand how things operate. And when you're managing, it's a team that can post so many different option and matchup headaches, it's tough to navigate and fortunately for us we responded last night.

Q. Could you walk through the decision to drop Pollock out of the lineup today and what have you seen in his at-bats these past three games?
DAVE ROBERTS: I think number one, Scherzer's really difficult and has shown to be tough on right-handed hitters. So to get Matt in there, Matt Beatty's bat in there, I thought there's not a whole lot of downside, he's had a couple at-bats already in the DS. And with AJ, I think right now he's struggling with spin. And I think that there's more chase in there than there has been in the second half of the season, for whatever reason, mechanical, maybe a little bit of pressing. So I think that to give him a blow, get Matt in there, get as many left-handed bats against Scherzer as possible, I think gives us the best chance to win tonight. But it's something that I haven't at all lost confidence in AJ and know that he'll figure some things out.

Q. What are the challenges in bringing through so many productive rookies into a team that's always expected to win every year. It seems like every year there's a new one or two, or we see three in the lineup today.
DAVE ROBERTS: You know, I think that it's, there's a nearsighted and a long view, but the overriding decision is what gives you the best chance to win tonight. I think that fortunately we have had young players a part of our roster in past years that we felt confident could handle this stage. And Matt Beatty, Will Smith, Gavin Lux, are no different. So, and we just expect them to do what they can do.

So, yeah, and it's nice to have guys like Russell Martin and David Freese to support that group. But tonight's game I feel very confident with the guys that we're running out there, regardless of service time.

Q. How important has Kolarek been in this series with those at-bats against Soto. And as baseball prepares to pass this three-batter rule, how much do you expect that will in the future change the calculation you would have to make with a guy like him?
DAVE ROBERTS: Well, if and when that does happen, that's a different conversation. But Adam has shown to get righties out too. But for our pen in this role being a lefty killer is his role in this series particularly.

And with Soto, you know, he's one of the Top-5 players in all of baseball, really, for me, as far as in the batter's box, his ability to look over a baseball, to slug, left-, right-handed pitching. So when you have a guy that you feel good about neutralizing, it's good. And I don't know if he does face him again. But, yeah, these first three at-bats, they have been good cat-and-mouse and good battles. But having a guy like Adam to deploy against Soto certainly is a nice something to have in your back pocket.

Q. Kiké mentioned that some of the players were vouching for Rich Hill to get on your postseason roster. Is that true or is that something that trickled to you or that you were aware of?
DAVE ROBERTS: I wasn't aware of that. I think that we do a really good job of appreciating what players want, but understanding what gives our team the best chance to win. And with those factors that I mentioned, that was the decision. So it's certainly nice when players support that as well.

Q. Last night Hyun-Jin said that if there is a Game 5 he is willing to pitch out of the pen. I have two questions for you. How do you appreciate his mindset and is there any possibility he can come out of the pen in Game 5?
DAVE ROBERTS: I didn't know that from Hyun-jin, which is great to hear. And I applaud him for being open to do whatever it takes to help us win a baseball game. We'll have that conversation if it's necessary. Yeah, I think that him coming back and signing a one-year contract here shows, speaks to how much he wanted to be a part of this and win a championship here with the Dodgers. So I thought he pitched really well last night and at 72, 73 pitches, to get him back online potentially for an inning out of the pen, that's certainly a luxury for us, if it gets to that point.

Q. David Freese was saying last night that his long list of postseason hits and moments is just a matter of opportunity. Is he being humble?
DAVE ROBERTS: Yeah, he is being humble. There's a postseason every year. There's big spots every year. Most times guys don't come through and can't control or temper their emotions. But David, his track record speaks for itself and his ability to temper those emotions and take an at-bat, go the other way, hit a homer to right center field, hit another homer last year to right center field. He has that ability. So, yeah, he's certainly downplaying his ability in high leverage on this stage.

Q. Given what Martin did last night offensively did you give any thought to starting him at catcher today?
DAVE ROBERTS: Not really. I think that Russ had a great night offensively, I think that Will has seen a lot of Rich and I planned on starting him Game 4. Scherzer's a tough matchup and I understand that it was a really good night at the plate and I expect him to, as his postseason goes on, to impact us with the bat as well again. But as far as tonight, I feel very confident in going with Will.

Q. I know that it's the playoffs so the quality of pitching is better than you've seen in the regular season, but do the baseballs seem more normal to you than they did during the regular season, like the way they used to?
DAVE ROBERTS: Yeah, it's interesting, there are a couple balls that I felt that -- I don't know the weather patterns of DC, but that maybe you see the trajectory and the sound and it doesn't seem like it's traveling -- even the Cody ball that it seems like that ball, other times during the year, might have went out or went a little bit deeper in the ballpark. So I'm sure there's going to be some digging on that, but yeah, it seems a little different.

Q. Do you think that might play to your team's advantage in any way, just given the overall talent you guys have?
DAVE ROBERTS: Yeah, I think that -- I mean I think that -- I know that we do a good job of elevating the baseball. Max is a strikeout fly ball pitcher. So to get a couple extra feet on the baseball would certainly help us. But I think that, yeah, all things being equal, I definitely like our talent. But we got our hands full with this guy tonight and just got to take good at-bats and we'll see how far the ball goes.

Q. How does this group compare to your past couple teams in terms of the offensive flexibility they afford you and also their ability to kind of maintain continuity as you shift left to right or right to left within a game?
DAVE ROBERTS: I think the biggest thing about our club this year versus years past is the left-handers' ability to be productive against left-handed pitching. I think that, underneath that, the versatility that we have with our roster is as versatile as we have ever had, but there's a point of being versatile because you have to and you have to get matchups, but when you have four guys in your lineup that you feel comfortable, really comfortable facing left-handed pitching, that you don't need to kind of get a matchup there, it makes it that much more powerful that you don't have to essentially make a move to then reserve that one for later in the game. So to the credit of Cory, Cody, Muncy, those guys, Belli, that right there is probably the biggest thing that allows for the lineup construction, continuity versatility.

Q. You're obviously playing tonight to avoid a repeat of this, but that Game 5 that you had against these guys in 2016 where is that on your list of favorite games and what are some of the moments in that game that sort of have buried themselves in your mind?
DAVE ROBERTS: That was my, I think if I had to pick one game of managing in my brief time, that's probably it, No. 1. Just because it was very new to me, it was my first time with an all hands on deck and your star pitcher coming and saying, I want to pitch out of the pen. And being in this environment, you got Scherzer and, yeah, that was -- Chooch getting a base hit, Joc's homer, Julio coming in. Yeah, we gave up the lead on a slider, I think, I felt good about that. Then JT's double, which was big. So there was a lot of different moments that -- that game was crazy -- Kenley going two plus or whatever it was, giving the ball from Kenley to Clayton -- that was crazy.

So I don't look forward to kind of revisiting that one. That was good to just have in my memory.

Q. Following up on something you said earlier, to what do you credit your left-handed hitters being able to hit lefties so much better this year? Is it just individual growth from those players or is there an element of just the way you teach it or the way you game planned this year that's different from last year?
DAVE ROBERTS: I think individual growth. I think the hitting guys have done a fantastic job with those guys. There's mechanic, there's approach, but I've talked about it many times, guys that can't hit lefties, lefties, they don't handle spin. Our guys, to a man, have shown that when you spin it and you make a mistake with it, they're going to, they can hurt you. And they do a pretty good job, some different than others, of taking spin down below the zone. So that's probably the biggest thing and that speaks to direction as far as the part of the field that you're trying to target. And I like to say the big part of the field.

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