Earlier this season, Yoenis Cespedes, asked whether he was tentative at the plate after getting hit by a pitch, said he didn't fear anything, not even death.
Tuesday, Cespedes took it a step further -- by baseball standards, at least.
When asked about the possibility of facing the devastating duo of Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke in Games 1 and 2 of the Division Series, Cespedes responded as fearlessly as he would to a high-and-tight fastball.
"I know that this team has faced these pitchers before, I personally haven't but they're pitchers just like anyone else," he said. "They're going to throw the same pitches and I think that the most important part for us is to go out there, have fun and the rest will take care of itself."
While Cespedes has some basis for his unflappability -- he's hit .350 in two playoff series with the Oakland A's -- the truth is, of course, that Kershaw and Greinke aren't at all like anyone else. The Dodgers have a pair of aces -- a three-time Cy Young Award-winner in Kershaw, and a leading Cy Young candidate in Greinke, who already won AL honors with the Royals in 2009. Greinke's 1.66 ERA is tops in the league, as is his 0.84 WHIP. Kershaw is third in ERA (2.13) and first in strikeouts with 301.
In four games against the two pitchers, the Mets won one against each, but scored only three runs total against them.
But Cespedes, like veterans David Wright and Michael Cuddyer, does accomplish something pivotal with the idea that Kershaw and Greinke are beatable just like everyone else. First off, it gives the offense somewhere to start, and it's also a good reminder that neither pitcher has been completely untouchable in the playoffs. Kershaw, in particular, has struggled, going 1-5 with a 5.12 ERA in 11 games. Greinke pitched seven innings of two-hit ball against the Cardinals last year in the NLDS, but he's 2-2 with a 3.63 ERA overall.
"Guys have had at-bats against them," Cuddyer said. "They know the arm angle, they know what the pitches look like, they know the shape of the pitches. That all helps."
Wright doesn't doubt it'll be difficult. One look at the back of a baseball card, he said, and "you know they're as good as it gets."