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October 8, 2019

Dave Roberts

Washington, D.C. - Workout Day

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Wondering who isn't available for you to pitch tomorrow?
DAVE ROBERTS: I think tomorrow I would say everyone's available. Hyun-jin Ryu hasn't pitched out of the pen, but I think that under these circumstances we're going to rely on anyone at any point.

Q. What's impressed you about this Nationals club? It's one of the veteran clubs in the Majors, a lot of guys that could be everyday players but it seems they have bought in to playing when needed, Cabrera and Dozier, who you had last year.
DAVE ROBERTS: You know, yeah, it's similar to our ball club as far as you have a lot of players that are very talented and that have conceded playing time for the sum and the ball club. It's a resilient club and very talented. They have earned this opportunity as well as we have for a Game 5. The second half of the season they played as good as anybody.

Q. Two part question for you: The first one, kind of quick, last night you mentioned that Kershaw would be available and you used the word piggyback. Could you explain that? And then secondly, when did you realize that Walker had the potential to be such a big-game pitcher at such a young age?
DAVE ROBERTS: Well, the piggyback situation obviously is where you don't expect him to just get an out or go an inning. It's kind of whatever is called for. So it's more of just there could be potential length with Clayton, whatever that might be. I'm going to have a hard time taking the ball out of Walker's hand. But knowing you've got Clayton behind him and a slew of other pitchers is more my thought.

As far as Walker, you don't know until you know. I think I really realized that when that Sunday start, I think Sunday against the Cardinals at, in St. Louis, that game, where it was a must-win for us to win three out of four in that series. And he got into the 8th inning I think the first time in the season and punched out Carpenter and that's where I knew that that was the first big game that I saw Walker show up in and respond.

Q. I know that the last time Strasburg pitched you had AJ Pollock hitting third. Is he going to be in the lineup tomorrow?
DAVE ROBERTS: You know, I'm still kind of trying to toy with some things, just kind of obviously putting runs on the board, run prevention, so I haven't made that decision yet, but I'm certainly aware of, obviously the way he's feeling at the plate right now. But regardless of whatever, if he's starting or not, I know AJ will be ready to help us win in whatever capacity.

Q. To take his question a little further, you had three rookies starting, one in left, one at second, and one behind the plate has last night. Have you decided if any or all three of those will start tomorrow?
DAVE ROBERTS: Will Smith is going to catch, I do know that. And then the other guys I've got to kind of try to figure out what makes the most sense. But I do know that Will will catch tomorrow.

Q. Wanted to ask you, what's the likelihood of seeing Hyun-jin Ryu tomorrow and is there a certain situation that you would like to put him in or is it sort of like an in-game situation that you're looking for?
DAVE ROBERTS: I would say it's highly unlikely, given the fact that the guys that we have available, how much or how little Hyun-jin has done it, his availability for Game 1 in the NLCS. So I think that that's something I appreciate, his willingness, but I just really don't see that as viable possibility.

Q. What can you take away from facing Strasburg in Game 2? I know you guys have faced him before, but anything in particular from that outing and just sort of how do you guys, the back and forth, sort of the chess match between you guys and him?
DAVE ROBERTS: Well, yeah, it's one of those things that it is a chess match. And I think that, and I don't know the exact numbers, but I think he was even more 50 percent, over 50 percent secondaries against us that first time. And is he going to continue to do that? Are we going to make an adjustment? I just do believe that the changeup and then the curveball usage, he was very sharp with both those pitches. When he's making pitches like that with that on top of the fastball, he's going to be tough on anybody, so I think for us to kind of hunt a location and be ready to capitalize on mistakes is very important.

Q. For a pitcher who throws as hard as Walker, how hard is it not to try to kind of overthrow in these situations, in these big moments, and how has he gotten better at that that you've seen from him in the last couple years?
DAVE ROBERTS: He's gotten better. But I think that there's, ideally that stroke will be, the arm will be out front and he'll have the command of the fastball, but certainly there's going to be emotions and he's a power pitcher. But I think that even with Walker we have seen that when he does get a little over-amped he has a way of recalibrating, and so I think being at home will certainly help that. And also just the experience and the success that he's had in the handful of big games that he has pitched in for us.

Q. How much of a factor could the setting be tomorrow night? How comfortable or how much of an edge is there -- I know we all know the numbers about you guys playing at home this year, but I thought there was some games this year where those people just lifted your spirits and you had some great comeback wins. Is that something that you can lean on tomorrow night?
DAVE ROBERTS: Absolutely. I think that, I know it's going to be sold out, I expect the crowd, the blue towels waving, rally towels from the first pitch. And we certainly feed off that emotion and that energy, we play great at home. Obviously we can't wait to -- there's familiarity with the ballpark, our routine. Obviously Walker loves being at home. Our guys hit well at home. So, yeah, I expect it to be electric tomorrow night.

Q. Because of all you've accomplished, do you think there's more pressure on you guys tomorrow and if so, what's your confidence level in their ability to handle the pressure?
DAVE ROBERTS: Well, I think that if you look at both teams, no team wants to win this game more, regardless of history, I think that if you're looking at right now. So we both have had really good years and put ourselves in this situation, so I honestly don't think that given our past we feel any more pressure than they do to win a Game 5. It's a must-win for both teams. And I do feel being at home with Walker on the mound gives us the best chance to win tomorrow and I'm very confident that we're going to come out of this and move on.

Q. The, surprise probably isn't the right word, but I'll use it anyway, are you surprised to be in this position in the first round after essentially dominating the National League all season?
DAVE ROBERTS: No. I mean, you don't know what to expect until you play a series. But going into this series we knew with the Nationals, their starting pitching, their three guys are as good as anybody in all of baseball, their front three. So we knew we were going to have our hands full.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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