Oct. 3 Mike Matheny pregame interview
Q. Understanding that it might look different if Allen were healthy, can you talk about how you see your bench, maybe the lack of power on it and how that might lead to a different use for those guys, and then how that fed into who you chose to be on it for this series?
MIKE MATHENY: Well, it's basically the bench we've had all season, so it's not any big surprise or not anything different than what we've done all year. We've had some different guys come in and be able to contribute and be that bench player.
Has anybody really jumped into that role? Matt Adams did a really nice job as a young player, especially from the right side. Didn't have anybody to really kind of grab ahold of the position and say this is somebody we're willing to go to a consistent basis.
But also, as you look at our lineup, there are not a whole lot of times we're going to run into situations where we feel we've got to go in and make some big changes other than if we're going to hit for our pitcher.
Shane Robinson has done a nice job from the right side. And we feel good about some of the young guys from the left side. So it's much like what we've dealt with all year, so really no big change.
Q. You've talked a lot this year about prioritizing defense at shortstop. Has Danny made enough improvements at that position that you really don't feel like you're sacrificing a lot there? Do you anticipate him drawing the starts against right‑handed pitchers throughout the series?
MIKE MATHENY: We'll do exactly what we've done all year long. I think these answers are all going to be probably pretty consistent. I don't think it was a shock to anybody that Danny was going to play short today by how he played down the stretch, defensively and offensively how he's swinging the bat. We have some flexibility there, but we also have some ability to make changes late in the game.
Pete Kozma has done a terrific job for us at shortstop and has given us some ability late in the game to go to him, to either move him to shortstop and then Danny on to third.
But really with the three guys in the middle, we have opportunities to move them around, and Danny's flexibility and Pete's allows us to do that.
Q. I know it's not just a one‑game series, and I know you've kept things very consistent in approach all season long, but are there any differences when you're in a shorter series that you're trying? Are there any subtle changes that you're maybe trying to push more or how you handle it?
MIKE MATHENY: No. Philosophy is why would we do anything differently now? For a couple reasons, one, guys have played pretty well with the approach that way, and, two, I believe ‑‑ and it's a message that we give to these guys starting the Spring Training ‑‑ if we go about our business in a certain way and we ask you to perform in a certain way, we start that in March when we started our first games, then you'll be asked nothing different when we get to October, if we're fortunate enough to get there.
I think it just gives them a very clear picture of what their expectations are from us. This is no time to start changing that. It's worked well for them so far, and we want to continue to watch them continue the exact same way.
Q. This team the last few years kind of had the front row seat in terms of what a team can do out of a Wild Card. You guys saw it last year as the second Wild Card. Does that give you any more perspective as to what the Pirates can do as one of the Wild Card teams this year?
MIKE MATHENY: We understand that a Wild Card doesn't necessarily mean any sort of disadvantage, so they've worked hard to get to where they are. We don't spend a whole lot of time thinking about them and their situation. We spend a lot of time thinking about what we need to do.
But we made it very clear, we have a lot of respect for this team, the organization, and how they go about playing the game. But after that, we have a lot of respect for what we go into that clubhouse and how we look around and what we see. That is what's more important, is how we come together and how we develop and how we continue with the momentum that we have so far.
Q. You mentioned yesterday that Shelby and Michael Wacha would be in the bullpen today. Are they there for innings or is there a scenario where you could see them in a short stint, especially with Wacha's experience in that type of role?
MIKE MATHENY: They both give us that flexibility. You're talking big arms that can come in in short spurts and be able to get us out of an inning or throw a complete inning for us, and they also obviously are stretched out so you can go multiple. So we're flexible in that regard in how we can use these guys.
Q. Just following up on your comments about doing things with consistency. When you get to the playoffs, you don't have to go around taking the emotional temperature of the team because you're fairly certain where they are at any given moment?
MIKE MATHENY: Yeah, more than anything else is the temperature that our veterans establish. That's something that we take a lot of pride in. We don't shy away from the topic of how much experience our team has. When you look in that room and you look at the rings that these guys have won, there is a lot of value to what they've learned through the years that have enabled them to gain those championships. So they set the tone.
They started early. They don't wait until we get here. They start talking about it before the season ends about how to go down the stretch run, how to play when the pressure is turned up, and how that's translated into the postseason. We talk about it in Spring Training. I think it's good for our young players to hear how our veterans go about it, and they set the tempo. They set the tone.
And it's very rare to see them in those conversations and not see them smile. There are so many good memories, yes, some very good wins, but also some tough losses. Just the heart of competition at the highest level and the fans into it as much as they can possibly be, some of the greatest memories that they've ever had inside the game, and they can't wait to share those with the young guys.
Q. Some of those young guns that you have in the bullpen, some of them started this season in AA. Just tell me how impressed you were with some of the young talent in there, Rosenthals and those kind of guys?
MIKE MATHENY: Well, we have had our share of newcomers, no question. The first place I always go is to give a lot of thanks to our organization. One, through our scouts and our drafting process of bringing in the right kind of people, and, two, we have to develop them properly. Our Minor League coaches and staff and rovers have done a terrific job of getting these guys ready and preparing them to be an impact. Not just come up here and serve some time and fill in for a while, but figure out how to contribute.
That's exactly what they've done right from day one. We've thrown them into some high‑leverage situations, and they've responded. So we continue to give them opportunities and they continue to shine. It gives us the ability to let them continue to be a part of this roster right now.
So it's exciting for these guys who have never been here before. It's fun to watch them and realize that this is something that they've worked really hard to deserve.
Q. Is it too early or can you announce who the Game 3 starter will be?
MIKE MATHENY: No, I think you guys are probably putting it together, too, as we put Wacha and Shelby on the bullpen. But Joe Kelly's going to be our Game 3 starter once we get over to Pittsburgh.
Q. What have you seen from Lance Lynn in his last few starts that made the difference from when he was having trouble back in August?
MIKE MATHENY: We've talked about this so much as we were going ‑‑ as he was going through it. But we saw pretty good stuff. All we would see is just little blips on the screen where it seemed to be a one inning, five runs. He was dominant for the first three innings. He would give up four or five, and then he'd go another four innings where he just looked great. It was just a matter of harnessing that one inning and not letting things get out of hand.
I think Lance has grown as a pitcher this year. I think he's learned how to have a consistent demeanor on the mound. Consistently aggressive, though. He's naturally a guy that goes out there like a bull. He's had just a real nice tempo on the mound. He's had a great disposition. He's had a lot of confidence when he's on the mound. That's something that has just been a great momentum for him and for us, and we're excited to watch him pitch.
Q. I'm wondering how things maybe are a little different for you this time around having gone through the postseason last year as a first‑time manager and now being back here again?
MIKE MATHENY: I really don't see it as any different except, obviously, a little different situation. You're going into the one game in Atlanta, and that was intense. I know the Pirates understand what that feels like. Then being able to move on. Then we headed into a tough Washington club, and now we're heading against a tough Pittsburgh club.
Similar emotions in the fact that I thought our guys were ready last year. I thought our guys had been doing all the things they needed to do to prepare. It didn't feel like we had anything rush up on us. It didn't feel like we weren't ready, and I feel the same this year. I feel very happy with how the guys finished up the season, with how they pushed, with the work that they put in all season long.
When you've taken care of those things, those are things that you can control. And then I started watching them and the demeanor and the air inside the clubhouse, you walk in there, a lot like what it was last year, it felt like just another game. There were a few more cameras, few more microphones. But once we get outside of that and the guys get the distractions out, it's just another game.
That's what it feels like in the clubhouse now, and hopefully that's how they go about playing the game.