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Rest key for Maddon, Cubs during playoff race

CHICAGO -- Joe Maddon has already amassed more wins with the Cubs in one season than the club did in each of the last five seasons. His team is in the midst of a playoff race, holding onto the National League's second Wild Card spot. And he's doing it all with a roster that has five rookies on it.

So what's the secret to his success? It's nothing complex, as it turns out, just a good night's sleep.

Of course, the concept shouldn't come as a surprise after he had players wear pajamas on the flight home from Sunday night's game in Los Angeles. Or after he let players sleep in and show up to the ballpark a few hours before game time.

"What really was necessary was I get a good night's sleep," Maddon said before Saturday's 2-0 win over the D-backs. "There's nothing overrated about that. If I get a good night's sleep, I think I can do a better job today.

"It's about trusting your players and having them ready to play every day. They need to see me be consistent in my approach, and if they do, we have a much better chance of them being consistent in their approach."

After Chicago's 14-5 victory over the D-backs on Friday, Maddon said he went to bed at 9 p.m. for Saturday's 1:20 p.m. CT game. Even after his team's West Coast road trip, Maddon worked to keep his players from spending too much time working before the game.

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It's why he was more than happy to give his team some rest during Friday's game while it looks to stay fresh for that postseason hunt.

With a 14-2 lead in the fifth inning of Friday's game against the D-backs, Maddon removed the three players he's used the most in favor of giving them rest. Anthony Rizzo, Dexter Fowler and Kris Bryant are among the Cubs who have played the most games and taken the most at-bats.

Rizzo and Bryant have both had only one day off since the beginning of the season, while Fowler has been held out of four games.

"It should really revitalize them for today, again," Maddon said. "Don't underestimate how important those four innings were [Friday], even mentally. Just to sit there and watch a Major League game, and we had done nice job building a big lead, you could just sit there and exhale a little bit."

He insists September provides its own energy to players, especially for a young roster, but he doesn't have a master plan for who rests and who starts.

"Believe me, I'm prepared," Maddon said. "I've got my stuff down, I've done it for a while, but at the end of the day it's about being in this moment and how we react to it."

Greg Garno is an associate reporter for
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