Oct. 4 Mike Matheny pregame interview
Q. Do you have a Game 4 starter?
MIKE MATHENY: Yeah, we'll be starting Michael Wacha.
Q. Was that a tough conversation to have with Shelby, considering he had been starting all season long?
MIKE MATHENY: You know, I think anytime anybody's roles are changed when they get to the postseason, whether it's a guy not being on the active roster or whether it's somebody moved into a different role, that's never a conversation that they necessarily want to have. These guys are competitors. They believe in what they do, and the conversation is very candid and honest with Shelby that we had a lot of faith in all of our starters, especially how all the guys finished up at the end of the season. Shelby's throwing the ball very well. But when it comes down to it, it's hard to ignore what Michael did on his last start, and really like the way that he finished and really kind of the deciding factor.
Q. On the flip side, the difficulty of that decision, would it be fair to say that you're in the rare position of having a legitimate surplus of postseason starters?
MIKE MATHENY: Yeah, I would never call it a surplus. We made the mistake early this season talking about depth and then next thing you know we were tested, so we don't want to be tested anymore. We're fortunate that our starters have been really throwing the ball well towards the end. They gave us a lot of flexibility. But whether you're making that decision for Game 2 with Lance Lynn or 3 with Joe Kelly, we're very comfortable throwing any guy out there. We have our ace of the staff, and Adam showed yesterday why he has that title. After that, all these guys are just kind of following suit and having some internal competition, that healthy competition where they're each trying to one up the previous guy.
Q. What is Shelby's availability now moving forward? Is he kind of a floating bullpen guy or what is his availability?
MIKE MATHENY: He's available, so he'll be available for whatever we need. If one of the starters needs help early, we're not going to be shy to get him going and have him come in the game and pitch as long as we need him to. Or if need be, he comes in for a short stint. So he gives us some flexibility there.
Q. Speaking of the pitchers, what kind of presence, leadership, mentorship has Chris Carpenter been able to provide this year even though it's been in a little different role?
MIKE MATHENY: It's a weird phenomenon being on the disabled list. A lot of times guys go through the mental adjustment of just feeling like they can't contribute because they're not doing what they normally do. There are a lot of even veterans that make the mistake of thinking that they don't have a voice and that they're not going to have the impact because they're not out there doing it and they miss an opportunity. But Carp is above and beyond that. This guy has been not just a voice to our pitching staff, he's a guy that gets everything going on the bench. He's a catalyst. He's in there yelling and screaming and firing people up and reminding them of different things and challenging them and calling them out. This guy's just his career speaks for itself, what he's been able to do on the field. But in the same breath as I talk about it, Yadier Molina, when you try to measure what his value is, you can't really have the metrics to measure what a Chris Carpenter means to a club. He's a winning player. Whether he's out on the mound winning games or whether he's on the bench, he's making people better all the time, and he's a big part of why we are where we are right now.
Q. The Pirates were in here talking about all the defensive shifting they do. You did some of it last year and a little bit of it this year. But how do you view that from an offensive perspective when you look at what they do and whether or not you think that plays a lot into defending against your offense?
MIKE MATHENY: We really try not to have our guys focus too much of trying to hit and have approach to beat the shift. We'd rather them stick with their strengths. I believe in a lot of things that the numbers show in shifting, and I wouldn't be surprised if that's something we do more in the future. But right now, we've been able to kind of set our priorities, and we still have some pitchers, and I know this isn't where your question is going, but on the defensive side, we always put the priority in our pitcher's hands. When they see some things out of normal, it does affect them in a way. But there is reason to do it, and obviously the game is trending in that direction too. I believe there is value. Obviously, the Pirates have shown that it's worked very well for them this year. But as far as our offensive approach goes, once you start to try to get away from your strengths, I believe you've given yourself a disadvantage.
Q. Can you talk about the influence John Mabry's had on your offense this whole season?
MIKE MATHENY: I believe it comes down to the talent of the players. There is no question. We as a staff have an opportunity to challenge and encourage and constantly push these guys. But I also have seen firsthand just how much effort our staff has put in and how individualized the effort has been. John has just been off the charts. He came in with everybody talking about his predecessor, and I understand how that feels. John had big shoes to fill, if he was trying to fill shoes, of Mark McGwire.