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Oct. 17 Joe Maddon pregame interview

MLB.com

Q. Regardless how much scouting reports or video you have on Darvish, what are the challenges for your team laying off that 96 up and the crazy Bryan Harvey splitter down?

JOE MADDON: Yeah, just a matter of how sharp he is with that fastball command. It always comes down to a pitcher having his fastball command. Everything plays off that. I've seen him really good. I've seen him really good in Texas in the past. When he's got it all going on, I've always thought he was one of the better pitchers -- one of the best pitchers in the game, but we'll see how it plays out.

Normally with guys as good as he is, you normally have to get to them quickly. Once you permit them to settle in, they suddenly get all this different stuff working for them, and it becomes increasingly more difficult. So you really want to jump him early if you can, and the big thing is also if he could just grab a couple walks in there, not expand your strike zone, that would be very important too.

Q. Can you explain the changes in your lineup today?

Q. Regardless how much scouting reports or video you have on Darvish, what are the challenges for your team laying off that 96 up and the crazy Bryan Harvey splitter down?

JOE MADDON: Yeah, just a matter of how sharp he is with that fastball command. It always comes down to a pitcher having his fastball command. Everything plays off that. I've seen him really good. I've seen him really good in Texas in the past. When he's got it all going on, I've always thought he was one of the better pitchers -- one of the best pitchers in the game, but we'll see how it plays out.

Normally with guys as good as he is, you normally have to get to them quickly. Once you permit them to settle in, they suddenly get all this different stuff working for them, and it becomes increasingly more difficult. So you really want to jump him early if you can, and the big thing is also if he could just grab a couple walks in there, not expand your strike zone, that would be very important too.

Q. Can you explain the changes in your lineup today?

JOE MADDON: Sure. I wanted to get one more lefty in there, and that would have been to get Javy out, as an example. And I hate playing any game of baseball without Javy on the field because he's such a dynamic defender, and he's been a big part of our defense, and hopefully we will get him in the game later.

But put those two guys on the top primarily. If you look at the way they're matching up things, if you put those two guys down lower, there is less probability of them hitting against a right-handed pitcher in the latter part of the game. We'll see.

If you grab the lead, it becomes moot, if you don't, it becomes more critical. So that was part of the thought process. We've done this before. We've done it with K.B. 3, and Rizzo 4. So the guys have seen this method. Again, it was more to put Zo and Schwarbs in an advantageous position as much as anything else.

Q. I know you've talked about this before, but the philosophy seems like it's changed throughout baseball as far as starting pitchers going deep into games in the postseason. Guys aren't going past the 7th inning, and you've done that as well. Kyle called it bullpening. Is there a change in the mindset these days in baseball, and what is your thought on that?

JOE MADDON: It depends on your bullpen. The I mean, I really like to see our guys more deeply into the game of starters. I talked about that a couple days ago. I think we're most effective when we get our starters more deeply into the game, we are. There's other teams that argue because of the configuration of their bullpen differently, but I like when Jon Lester goes 6-plus innings. I like when Quintana goes 6-plus, et cetera. And of course Kyle tonight. I think that sets us up better in the latter part of the game just based on how we're built.

So I think, of course, you can't argue that the mentality has shifted in regarding how to do that. But in order to do that, you have to have certain things in place in regards to make that work. I prefer our starters going more deeply into the game.

Q. When hitters don't chase, and as the Dodgers haven't been chasing, and as your team in the past has done, one, do they tend to get some more borderline calls because they have that reputation, and, two, how do you get pitchers to not be frustrated and deal with it?

JOE MADDON: Well, I do believe there's certain groups that when they don't chase they do have that reputation. But, again, it really depends on the umpire, honestly. All umpires are different based on right-handed pitcher and left-handed pitcher. Right-handed hitter, left-handed hitter, they have different zones on both sides you've got to be aware of. But I do think, yeah, I can't deny that if somebody's got a reputation of having a good eye that normally that will follow.

The second part? I didn't hear that.

Q. How do you get pitchers to swing when guys aren't taking borderline pitches?

JOE MADDON: Well, the big thing is to get ahead. Strike one is really important. Two out of the first three pitches being strikes are really important. The difference between the 1-2 count and a 2-1 count is astronomical in our game. I've always believed when you're working in the Minor Leagues and coming up to the Big Leagues, you really want to emphasize two out of the first three pitches being a strike. And when that happens, you normally have a pretty good night on the mound.

It's just difficult. It's just up to the pitchers, really following through mentally and being able to command his pitches on that night. But that's what you're striving for. And really striving to get an out within the first three pitches as often as possible too.

You know, there are the strikeout guys, when they get two strikes, they have that other-worldly pitch to go to. But for the most part I like two out of the first three pitches being a strike, and getting your outs as quickly as you can. I think hitters normally have an advantage the more pitches they see. And as a group they have an advantage just talking about wanting to see our starters pitching more deeply by building up that number of pitches that gets us out of there sooner.

Q. This is your third straight NLCS, so what is your sense of the atmosphere coming back here, facing what you're facing compared to in the previous couple of years?

JOE MADDON: It's knowing -- I mean, again, I don't know how much the experience matters, I think in the sense that you know you can do this. I think that helps a little bit. I think knowing. I talked about this recently, what is experience? I think experience is knowing the situation a little bit better in advance of it, of the moment.

So I know our guys are well and they're fine going into tonight's game. They understand the importance of it, absolutely getting 2 to 1, and 3-0 is dramatically different. But it's really not a whole lot different than 3-1 versus the Indians and going back there 3-2. There's a lot of similarities involved.

This group tonight, our group, is pretty much intact from that moment. So you hope while you're basing it on experience. But at the end of the day, it really comes down to their pitcher versus your pitcher.

I like the fact that we have Kyle pitching tonight. They've got a really good guy going also. We have to become a little bit more offensive. That's pretty obvious. But I like the fact, and I know I'm just listening to the guys, they're ready to go. They're fine. But experience equals knowing, and hopefully that's going to help us tonight.

Q. What have you seen with Bryant that may explain why it seems like he's just missing his pitches right now?

JOE MADDON: I can't -- I mean, the first at-bat day before yesterday, the ball to right central, he thought he got that. I thought he got it too, and it just depth carry out. There's an example, that ball goes over the wall, and it could change his whole outlook. It's a confidence issue. Hitting the ball hard on a consistent basis issue. When they're making their pitches, the big thing is, again, to force them back into your strike zone. I think that's what we have to do as a group is really get our strike zones organized once again. When you see your pitch not to take it or foul it off, that's the essence of hitting.

So, again, he really thought he hit that ball well the other day and it didn't carry out, so that's going to happen.

My perspective or perception is that we need to hit a couple balls hard in a row, successful hits, and then move on from there and see what happens. We just haven't been able to do that. And it's not just the Dodgers series, quite frankly, the whole postseason. Winning 3 out of 5 against Washington, we didn't beat them up either offensively there.

So at some point I have so much faith in our offense and our guys that it's got to kick in. Hopefully tonight's the night, but this has been pretty much ongoing the whole postseason.

Q. Joe, when you're watching Kyle, kind of as an interested observer, what do you enjoy watching about him? Anything in particular?

JOE MADDON: Pitchability. You could see -- I could see him out there, and you could almost -- when he gets into a little bit of a rhythm, you can see it from the side. Meaning, and I've described it this way, right-handed hitters in particular, you'll see them take a called strike on the outside edge and not argue it, because the ball's coming back and it's coming back at the knees. And there is nothing they can do with it except look at it. Then on top of that, when he's 88, 89 on that gun, or 87, 89 on the gun, the changeup becomes more effective also.

But it starts, to me, with fastball command, down, down and away to a righty. Off of that would be the changeup. But you look at the quality of the take of the other side, meaning when the other side's taking really sharp pitches as strikes and there is no argument whatsoever, that tells you he's absolutely on. And there is something about him from the side, just watching his delivery the way his arm pronates and his finish, when he's really getting on top with that good angle, you can see that from the side also.

He and I talk about this often. The last game I thought he got out of his patterns. We talked about that the other day, and he agreed with that. Probably because he faced them so quickly after just pitching against them before that. And we talked about the next time that occurs to not let that kind of thought process impact your game. He's really cerebral, as we know, but it's that dotting of the outside edge down, and then the changeup off of that, and the rhythm that he creates, it's obvious from the side.

Q. As a guy who coached hitting and has studied hitting, how unusual is it for a guy like Justin Turner to reconstruct or reinvent himself as a hitter? Do you remember anyone else over the years who really, at that stage of his career, did what he's done.

JOE MADDON: Well, I've always been a fan. Always been a fan. The difference right now is what he's doing against lefties. He's been really good against righties even the last couple years. This year he's caught up with the left-handers. So the adjustment I'm not exactly sure. It's not really obvious from the side.

The thing that I've really noticed in the first couple games is you make a good pitch and even with two strikes it's fouled off. It's not missed. He gets it the next pitch. That's the thing as a hitting coach I used to preach all the time. Foul balls are good with two strikes. Foul balls aren't necessarily good with less than two strikes because you could be missing your pitch.

So from the side it looks really a lot of the same. But whatever he did to adjust to the left-handed pitcher, that's the obvious difference to me. Like the other night, man, he saw us pitch, he didn't foul it off. Didn't miss, didn't take it. He hit it. You've got to give the guy credit for that. Other guys that have reinvented themselves kind of like that -- well, to a certain extent Martinez with the Diamondbacks now and the Tigers. Really had been let go by Houston. Kind of just like cast aside, and right now he's one of the most dangerous hitters in the game. That comes quickly to my mind, going back to my Angels days. Not a whole lot of dudes back then. But I'm sure there are other examples. But the primary difference is what he's doing against lefties, and I don't know exactly what he did differently.