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October 9, 2019

Dave Roberts

Los Angeles - postgame 5

Nationals - 7, Dodgers - 3

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. A lot of expectations going into the season. After the franchise record number of wins at the end of the regular season maybe they even went up a little bit more. What do you say to Dodger fans? What did you say to your guys in the clubhouse after the first round elimination?
DAVE ROBERTS: It's one of those things that you don't, you can't script. Made sure that the guys understood how proud I was, how they competed all year long, didn't take a day off. You got to give credit to the Nationals, the way they played and came in here and won a series.

Obviously very, very, disappointing is probably an understatement. But I think it's just one of those things that we got beat and just disappointed for everyone.

Q. With Kenta having warmed up already, why did you decide to stick with Clayton to face the heart of their order?
DAVE ROBERTS: Well, with Kenta right there it was one of those -- Clayton, I felt good about Clayton right there. Eaton and when you got Rendon and Soto, so I felt that I liked Clayton. He threw, I don't know what it was, a couple pitches and we had Clayton ready for whatever today. So for Maeda to go through Soto, Kenta in this role, we really liked him against the right-hander. And the success that Clayton's had against Soto with the two-run lead, I'll take Clayton any day in that situation. I just think it's one of those where it was easy for me to get Clayton, with the low pitches to get Rendon and to go out there and get Soto. And to have Kenta behind him. That was my thought, and not have Kenta go through Soto.

Q. Could you take us through your thought process in the 10th, bringing back Kelly for a second inning, intentionally walking Soto rather than Kolarek and letting Kelly face Kendrick.
DAVE ROBERTS: Yeah, obviously, Kelly you're looking at obviously a tie ball game, and Kelly goes in there, throws 10 pitches, and he's throwing the baseball really well. He's arguably our most rested reliever, and the way he was throwing the baseball, so I felt it was pretty easy. Don't have a lot of guys as far as behind Kenley. I liked Joe right there in that spot, I really did. After 10 pitches there was no stress. Ball coming out well. So for him to go out there and take down that inning and to have Kenley take down the other part of the order, I felt really good about it.

And as far as that second and third, nobody out, you're in a tie ball game, yeah, you could go to Kolarek, infield is going to be in, hope for a punch, but I just felt that Joe had a good chance to put Howie on the ground and potentially then get Kenley on Zimmerman. And so my thought was to try to get a ground ball right there.

Q. I know you said Kershaw is your guy, but at what point is there kind of another question about that?
DAVE ROBERTS: I don't understand that question.

Q. I guess, when is the analytics going to come into play and show that Kershaw hasn't been successful in the postseason? When is that kind of a conversation to have?
DAVE ROBERTS: That's a tough question for me to answer, honestly.

Q. Pregame, you mentioned it was all hands on deck. Just how available were guys like Rich Hill and Dustin May, Stripling and Julio down in the bullpen.
DAVE ROBERTS: Julio's available. Obviously Dustin was available, but two innings in an off day, we haven't done that to him. So now you're looking at potential effectiveness. And so I don't think anybody could have been more effective than Joe in that 9th inning. And so it was 10 pitches, the velocity, the command, the curveball. And so to go out there and send him out there again, I felt really good about it.

Q. Obviously, you've played over the years with the many athletes I have interviewed. They remember the really rough times equally as much, if not more, than the great times many years after their career. What do you say to Clayton Kershaw after tonight?
DAVE ROBERTS: He's a pro. He's probably the best pitcher of our generation. For him to make himself available tonight and got us out of a big spot right there and it just didn't work out. So there's always going to be second-guessing when things don't work out, but I'll take my chances any day on Clayton, and it just didn't work out right there.

Q. So rephrasing the question a little here: You went with Buehler for 117, which is a little abnormal for what you usually do. How much of this game was bent on the analytics and how much of it was bent on gut feeling about what you thought was the right thing to do in those situations?
DAVE ROBERTS: Well, I don't think analytics, well, Walker was throwing the baseball well, the command, nothing was compromised. And once he walked Turner, I liked, I thought Walker had had enough. I thought he emptied the tank. So to get Clayton to get us out of that spot, I felt good about it. Clayton, it's not about analytics. It's about, he's one of the best pitchers in the game and for him to go out there and throw four pitches and to go back out there and get two hitters, I felt really good about that. So it's more of, I don't think it was an analytic question. It's a guy that I believe in, and I trust and it didn't work out. Kenta ended up cleaning it up. And Joe Kelly comes out, rested, and threw the ball really well and was very efficient, and my eyes tell me that he should go back out there because he's throwing the because ball really well.

Q. Even when you have faith in your process when bullpen decisions backfire the manager tends to get blamed. Do you feel responsibility for this loss?
DAVE ROBERTS: Sure. I mean, if the blame falls on me, I've got no problem with it. I feel that my job is to put guys in the best position to have success and if it doesn't work out, there's always going to be second-guessing, and I got no problem wearing the brunt of that. That's okay.

Q. The disconnect is that Clayton's stuff is obviously different from what it was when he was building his resume of being the greatest pitcher in his generation. So I'm just, what is it that you trust in that spot over Kenta, who has just been more effective in short stints?
DAVE ROBERTS: Well, I think that the thing is that we didn't, we wanted to keep Kenta, I wanted to keep Kenta away from Soto. So you look at what Kenta has done, he's been a righty killer and he has been throughout his career. So, yeah, there's a Rendon situation, but then there's also Soto behind there.

So I just felt that the way Clayton was efficient, I feel great about running Clayton back out there for two hitters.

Q. The bats today obviously jumped on Strasburg early and then kind of petered out from there. What did you see, I'm guessing you were hoping for more against their bullpen which had kind of been vulnerable.
DAVE ROBERTS: No, I thought we had a great game plan against Strasburg. We stressed him and we got a lead, couldn't add on, but I thought we got a lead and put ourselves in a position to win a game. So, yeah, we had opportunities to break it open. Didn't happen, he made pitches when he needed to. You got to give credit to him. And we couldn't get to the pen after that.

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