Excepts from a Q&A with Jake Arrieta, who will start Game 3 of the National League Division Series for the Cubs against the Cardinals on Monday at Wrigley Field.
Q. Jake, you always hear about a Game 3 in a series as the so-called pivotal game. Is that how you look at this start, or do you approach it like any other?
JAKE ARRIETA: Yeah, I think it's foolish to approach it any other way, but obviously we know this is a big game for us. You know, mindset is really obviously getting two in St. Louis would have been great, but coming out of St. Louis with one is -- you know, puts us in a good situation to do some special things here at Wrigley the next couple days.
We're in a great spot. Everybody is prepared. Two really good teams, obviously, with a lot on the line.
Everybody is going to be prepared, focused mentally, and looking forward to an incredible crowd tomorrow night here.
Q. After your experience on Wednesday, is there any way you could possibly be nervous or upset in anything that you face? Could you face a bigger game than that?
JAKE ARRIETA: Um, I think the postseason environment is really the one adjustment, probably, versus the regular season. There's a lot of added variables there. But, you know, pitching in Wrigley, being able to do that, first playoff game here in a long time, it's going to be hard to not be amped up and ready to go tomorrow night.
These fans have been waiting for this for a long time, so, you know, it's just going to be nice -- it's going to be a boost, if anything, tomorrow night, pitching in front of the city of Chicago here at Wrigley. I think it's only going to benefit us.
Q. Can you elaborate on your friendship with Matt Carpenter?
JAKE ARRIETA: Well, it started a long time ago. We played college ball together, became close, you know, pretty quickly. He's a tremendous competitor. We've battled it out on and off the field for a long time now. You know, it's exciting to see where he's taken his career. After what he went through at TCU, he battled through a lot, some injuries, dedicated himself to getting healthy and pursuing his career at the next level. He's been able to do that, very consistent player. He's a spark plug for that offense. I was in his wedding. Just a really good friend, really good friend.
It's tough to root for him now, obviously. We've talked about it a little bit, and I told him we can be friends again after this one (laughter). But yeah, just really close relationship that we've had for a number of years. I think it kind of fuels the competitive nature of both of us, playing against each other in an environment like this.
You know, we'll play these games and be friends a few days from now.
Q. I wanted to know how much you enjoyed breakfast outdoors this morning.
JAKE ARRIETA: It was nice. It was nice to get back home and eat some of this food that we're so spoiled with all year. We have tremendous chefs, and they take a lot of pride in the way they put things together for us. You know, doing it out on the field and kind of having the fastball game on the Jumbotron and just kind of being with your teammates, it's supposed to be a workout, obviously, but it's just kind of nice to get out here and have a few moments to relax and enjoy your time together. Had Jason Motte out there throwing a sim game, and he was getting ready, so it was nice to see him out there throwing and feeling good and feeling ready to go. So it's just a tremendous day out here, great weather. Good day to be at the yard for a couple of hours, spend some time here and prepare for tomorrow.
Q. You did some fun-loving trash talking with Pirates fans, backed your words with a shutout. For those who think you might be a lock tomorrow, what do you say?
JAKE ARRIETA: Well, I mean, that's just certain people's opinions. I think that I'm confident in my ability to go out there tomorrow and give us an outing that's good enough to win the game. Obviously, on their side, you know, Wacha has got the ability to be pretty darned good on the mound himself. You know, I just intend to keep us in the game, regardless of the circumstances, whatever comes up.
But I like my chances to go out there and win us a ballgame.
Q. Since you made the adjustments that helped you excel this season and the use of the cutter or moving on the mound, how did that change how you prepared for a team, in the sense that did you prepare for their weaknesses or prepare for your strengths? Did that alter in any way because of the new success you had?
JAKE ARRIETA: Well, you know, you prepare with your strengths in mind, and also you try and target some weaknesses that the hitters might have that you can expose. But, for me, the development of my secondary stuff and my command of the fastball really allowed me to analyze a lineup and actually attack them the way that I intended to. That's really the big difference. It's one thing to have a scouting report and not be able to execute it, and it's completely different if you're able to kind of work your way through that report, attack guys certain ways, use different sequences, and be effective with them.
It's one thing to have the information, have the knowledge of what you would like to do, and then it's another thing to be able to actually put it into play in the game, and that's something that I'm able to do now pretty consistently.
Q. When you look at what you've done the second half, obviously your teammates are impressed and everybody else is. Are you impressed with it and have you been able to take some time and appreciate everything you've been doing these last few months?
JAKE ARRIETA: It's been a little hard to really sit back and reflect on everything, just because of what we have in store for us the following day. You know, we've had so much that we've had to prepare for. Obviously, trying to win the division, about a month, month and a half ago, still really in the mix for the division title, Pittsburgh right behind St. Louis, ahead of us. So we've been trying to chase some guys and just trying to come out every day and win our next game, regardless of who we've been playing.
That's been the primary focus, but I think, obviously, once the season comes to an end, hopefully the beginning of November, then I'll really be able to enjoy it a little bit further and kind of put some of those memories on display and talk about them and try and enjoy it.
But now, it's just -- we've got so much going on that we have to prepare for as a team that it's hard to put a lot of thought into it, right now.
Q. Jake, I know you know that anything can happen in baseball, and I'm sure you also are aware that Clayton Kershaw and David Price both came into October on tremendous rolls. So what's happened with them over the last few days, any kind of reminder that you can't take things for granted this time of year, even as well as you've pitched?
JAKE ARRIETA: Well, you're absolutely right. I mean, it's -- I think that your weaknesses and your mistakes are exposed at a level maybe slightly above where they would be in the regular season. Everybody's attention to detail, everybody's focus is at such a high level that when those little mistakes are made, the opposing lineups are able to capitalize on it -- and a lot of the times, you know, David and Clayton, their stuff is so tremendous that they'll get away with mistakes.
But it's a little bit different in October. It seems like everybody is in that sweet -- their mentality is in that sweet spot where nothing -- they're not really fazed by anything. Sometimes it happens with momentum changes in the game, the atmosphere, the crowd noise, but everybody is pretty locked in at this point in the season. And that's why the good teams still remain.
But it's hard to say, you know, because I don't think it would surprise anybody if those guys go out every time in October and absolutely dominate. I think it's kind of a red flag when they aren't as successful as we're used to seeing them be. But there's good teams in October, right now, and you really, really got to be on top of your game to have success.
Q. Six losses this year, one of them was to the Cardinals on May 7th. Do you remember anything in particular from that loss or that start about the way you pitched?
JAKE ARRIETA: I don't remember anything about it, honestly. I don't know.
Q. You guys have really fed off the crowd this year and everything, they've fed off of you. Is there a concern that if things don't go well at the start tomorrow that that tension from the fans that they've shown in the playoffs in the past can maybe seep down to you guys, as well?
JAKE ARRIETA: No (laughter).
Q. That last series here at Wrigley, since St. Louis was so intense; did that have an effect on how you guys feel about playing St. Louis or you already knew you could play with them?
JAKE ARRIETA: Yeah, I think we've had that in our minds from Day One in Spring Training. You know, Rizzo predicted we were going to win the division, which I liked. Came up a little short, but we won 97 games. I don't think anybody expected us to even be around 90 or so. So we exceeded a lot of people's expectations, and I don't think that there's any reason we can't continue to do so, regardless of how people outside of the organization or our clubhouse feel about our team. We know we can play with anybody, and I think we're a pretty scary team for anybody to play, right now.
We've got nothing to lose. We're playing well. We've got a lot of young guys with a lot of tremendous energy. You know, I don't think our young players are fazed by October at all; I really don't. You see the plays that Addison has made at shortstop, you see the things that Schwarber has been able to do, in the Wild Card Game in the first inning, that huge base hit to score Dexter put us on the board in the first, just kind of swung the momentum in our favor. So I think we're going to be tough to beat. We know St. Louis is a great club. They have been for a long time. We have a lot of respect for them. But I like our chances.
Q. You guys have been a pretty loose, fun-loving type of team. How much has that helped you this season? Is it because of the winning or has that maybe influenced the winning and how much you've won?
JAKE ARRIETA: Well, I think Joe has a lot to do with that. He set the tone Day One in Spring Training. His philosophy, his mentality, the way he likes to coach and approach his players, and I think we've fed off of that. I think that's kind of where it started. Then, you have a lot of young players who have a lot of energy who -- there's a lot of personality. A lot of guys came together quickly as a group, as more than just teammates, as friends. Your family gets to know each other and you become really close, and that's a big part of the team aspect is caring about your teammates off the field, getting to know their kids, their families, their wives. Those are all very important factors in the team's ability to come together in those huge moments.
So I think that Joe has been a huge part of that. We've bought into the way he likes to structure his coaching style, how he likes to manage the season, and he lets the players dictate kind of how things run. He allows us to hold each other accountable, and I think we've thrived in this environment.
Q. Jake, are you fearless?
JAKE ARRIETA: Well, I've been through a lot in my career, and the failure that I've gone through makes me really appreciate the moments of success much more. I've had some pretty dark times in this game in my career, you know, but I was dedicated to getting over the hump, to putting in the time, the effort, making any adjustments necessary to get to this point.
You know, I've had some pretty tough ones, so I don't think anything bothers me anymore.