LaRoche's advice to mates facing Hudson: Get to him early

There are few guarantees in life. Among them are death, taxes, poor life choices by Miley Cyrus and the fact that Giants right-hander Tim Hudson usually has his way with the Nationals.

The 39-year-old Hudson has practically enjoyed a stellar season's worth of stats against the guys with curly Ws on their cap over his 16 big league seasons. He's 18-5 with a 2.35 ERA in 31 career starts versus the Nats. At Nationals Park, he's gone 6-1 with a 2.85 ERA in 10 games. He even dominated the Nats in their infancy at RFK Stadium, posting a 2-0 record, a complete game and a stingy 0.56 ERA.

Hudson has gone 9-13 with a 3.57 ERA in 31 starts in 2014, but what appear to be mere mortal statistics take a backseat when you look at his two starts against the Nats this season: a 2-0 record and an 0.73 ERA.

Not exactly the kind of performer the Nats want to face in a 1-0 hole in the best-of-five National League Division Series.

So how do the Nats combat Hudson's perennial mastery?

"You will get something to hit, (but) you have to get to him early," said first baseman Adam LaRoche. "Huddy, throughout his career, ... once he gets past the third or fourth inning and settles in, he gets to be really tough. If you can get to him the first two, three innings, ideally it is huge. Not to say he can't be beat after that, but once he gets rolling he's good. Really good."

Striking early takes on added importance when you consider that, in his last dozen starts this season, Hudson pitched more than six innings only once. He can shorten a ballgame, and San Francisco skipper Bruce Bochy is perfectly content to get five or six innings out of Hudson and turn the game over to the bullpen.

laroche-swing-beard-red-sidebar.jpg"He's got it figured out," LaRoche said of Hudson. "He knows when to make adjustments. He knows how to read hitters really well. He has a knack for that. Again, he pounds the zone typically. Be ready to hit early."

For his part, Hudson believes there is little mystery on either end of the matchup between his and the Nats.

"For me, it is no secret, what they are about," he said yesterday when he met the media before Game 1 of the NLDS. "It is no secret to them what I am about. For me, it is going out there and coming up with a good game plan, trying to watch a lot of videos; seeing what strengths and weaknesses are at this point in the year for those guys, and come up with a good game plan."

But pitching against the Nats for years dating to his time with the Braves has provided a certain comfort zone that many pitchers don't feel in the postseason.

"Familiarity can never be a bad thing for a pitcher," Hudson said. "I feel the more history you have against a team, the more history you have against hitters, you know, the better off you can be. It can also go both ways; they obviously feel pretty familiar with me, what I am going to bring to them. It is all about making pitches, coming up with a good game plan, try to keep the guys off balance, and execute pitches. You know, if that can happen, then things will be OK."

The Nats do possess a few hitters who have had some success against Hudson.

Right fielder Jayson Werth is 17-for-44 (.386) in his career against the righty, with four home runs, 12 RBIs and a 1.199 OPS. Shortstop Ian Desmond is a lifetime .288 (15-for-52) hitter against Hudson with a home run and five RBIs. Ryan Zimmerman will likely come off the bench against Hudson and brings a .266 average (17-for-64), but has a home run and nine RBIs. Second baseman Danny Espinosa and outfielder Nate Schierholtz have also homered off the Giants pitcher in their careers.

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