Q. Terry, certainly you have a ton of confidence in who you're giving the ball to tomorrow. But how would you describe the challenge of facing Madison Bumgarner in an elimination game?
TERRY COLLINS: Well, he's outstanding, but this time of year you're going to face great pitching. We know that. We're up for it. We faced arguably the best pitcher in baseball last year in our series against the Dodgers, so we handled ourselves pretty good, and we think tomorrow night we'll do the same.
Q. What's the best approach against Bumgarner? What is the most successful way to attack him?
TERRY COLLINS: Well, he's real good, but like all great pitchers, he throws strikes. So the one thing you've got to go up with a little bit of a plan, try to get something you can handle, and don't miss it. Don't foul it off, put it in play. If you can do that, he's the kind of a guy -- you guys have been around him a lot to know that he's extremely aggressive. He's extremely competitive. Doesn't pitch around anybody. He goes after everybody he ever faces, and therefore you better be ready, because you're going to get something to hit, and you better do some damage with it.
Q. Do you have a lineup for tomorrow night, and if you're going to reveal it, what went into the first base?
TERRY COLLINS: I do have a lineup for tomorrow night and I'm not going to reveal it.
Q. Is first base one thing you're still debating, though?
TERRY COLLINS: No.
Q. I think you alluded to this the other day, but why is Noah Syndergaard the right guy to start the game tomorrow?
TERRY COLLINS: Well, we had to get in, and he was the guy to pitch Sunday. If it would have been Bartolo Colon on Sunday, he would have pitched. If it would have been (indiscernible) or Seth Lugo, he would have pitched. It was just lined up that when we put it down at the end of the year, we knew the importance of getting in postseason. It was the first and foremost thing, and so when we set it up, we knew Noah would pitch the last game, if we had to go to an extra game, he was the guy. We didn't shuffle our lineup around or our rotation around, which, again, as I told you guys the other day, we didn't want to try to play games. We didn't want to be cute bringing guys back on short rest. We just kind of lined it up that way.
I told some people today, last year Noah Syndergaard pitched, I think, one of the biggest games in certainly all year long, and that's Game 3. But that's set up by the outing in Los Angeles. We took a 22-year-old kid and said, look, you've got to go get maybe the biggest out of the year in the bottom of the 7th inning or 8th inning against the Los Angeles 7th and against the Dodgers, and he did that. We think he's certainly got the mental make-up along with the physical stuff to be that guy.
Q. This season, your motivation of this team, going back to when you guys were two games under .500 to where they are now, how do you use that game when you clinch overcoming all that adversity and channel that for a one-game tomorrow?
TERRY COLLINS: Well, we've got, in my opinion, an outstanding clubhouse full of guys who want to win. They talk about repeating going to the World Series, and I remember the first day of Spring Training when Yoenis CÃ©spedes walked into my office the first day he reported, and I hadn't been able to talk to him since we had signed him. He walked in and said, are you ready to go back to the World Series? And I said, now that you're here, yes, we are.
So it started there. They want to win. They never got down. Once in a while, the manager has something to say, but it's pretty much the guys in that clubhouse that deal with each other on a daily basis, your peers that step up and have the right things to say a lot. Never letting guys who have a bad day get down.
So we've been very fortunate that we've got a group of guys that have great leadership ability in our clubhouse, and yet at the same time tremendous competitive make-up, along with talent. So we got to where we needed to get to.
Q. Do you manage this game like it's Game 7 of the World Series? Is it all hands on deck, anything goes?
TERRY COLLINS: Well, yeah, obviously there are roster differences we'll make. But, yeah, I mean, you're certainly limit it to some guys, but this is, in one game, you've got to pull out every move you can possibly make to try to pull it off.
We don't have all the pitching. We certainly don't need a lot of pitching that you normally have with a 12-man staff. We're probably going to be at nine. Give you some offense off the bench, pinch-running maneuvers you might want to make during the game.
But, yeah, again, these two guys going tomorrow, I would think sitting here today they're going to get pretty deep into a game. They're both pretty good. So it's all about execution when it comes to a game like this. But certainly deep in the game we'll make whatever move we think is essential to try to score.
Q. You had mentioned (indiscernible) spoke about the struggles in the second half, but the wildcard has given you guys another opportunity. What do you think the impact of the wildcard has been? Has it been good? What do you appreciate about it?
TERRY COLLINS: Well, first of all, I think it is good. As you guys know, I spent so many years in the Minor Leagues where the season was divided into halves, first and second half. It always allowed -- if you didn't have a very good first half, it's kept the fan base in your towns excited because the second half could be different. They kept the players. They could forget about what happened the first two months because they know they've got two more months to start over. I think the wildcard provides that. It also provides teams that have perhaps had a bad month to get back in it. It keeps their fan base electric but with excitement that they're playing for a postseason berth.
So I think it's been very, very successful, we're certainly fortunate to be part of it. And that last month I told our players on September 1st, we were nine games behind the Nationals at the time. We're in a pennant race. And by gosh, we came out every night and played like that.
Q. You alluded to this a little earlier, but what did you learn about Noah last October and going into that, was a rookie. He was relatively untested. Given his personality off the field, were there any doubts that he would be that guy who steps out on a big stage?
TERRY COLLINS: No, he's not afraid. He's not intimidated by anything. Obviously pitch 1 of Game 3 indicated that. He's not afraid. He wants to take charge. His stuff speaks for itself. I think he's grown as a pitcher. I think he trusts his stuff a lot more now to where he pitches to more contact and he's worried about striking guys out. He's worked hard to try to improve himself with guys on base, yet knowing that the most important factor is still to get the hitter out at the plate.
So this guy wants to learn. He's always got a question for things that are going on during the game, even the days he's not pitching. So I think he's grown a lot, and he's certainly the right choice for us tomorrow night.
Q. In terms of your preparation, last year you had a couple of weeks where you knew you were going to be in the playoffs and be there for at least an extended series. Whereas this year, you're not knowing until the very end and preparing for potentially one game. How has your preparation changed and how do you balance thinking about that Game 7, all hands on deck, with potentially the whole of October?
TERRY COLLINS: Well, again, you've got to prepare differently for a lot of different scenarios, and that's why, just like Adam's question, we certainly try to set up our pitching so that if we got in we'd have the guy we thought was the pitcher to pitch the game.
But tomorrow's different. I have not been in a one-game, win-all scenario before. But as you go down the stretch, every game was important. So every night you had to be prepared. You had to do something that you think you've got to do to win a game. So we had 38 guys and there were a lot of nights you guys knew we used 35 of them to win a game. And tomorrow night we'll have 25 guys out there, and if we need to, we'll use all 25 to win that game.
Q. Can you talk about the difficulty that you've had in picking the roster the last couple days and some of the tough decisions that you've had to make, particularly at first base where you're choosing between a guy that really did a good job in filling in but then having the (indiscernible) potential, and just the back and forth you've done with your coaches in trying to select the roster?
TERRY COLLINS: Well, we used a lot of players to get to where we are, so there are a lot of pieces of guys who are not going to be part of the roster tomorrow night, which may change when you get in with a multi-game series. But we just thought we had to make some decisions on the guys that we think were best prepared, best ready for one game, and they are hard, they're very hard. You know, you look at our bullpen situation and you've got to protect yourself as far as some length in case the game goes extra innings. So you're going to need some guys who can give you that length and maybe take off somebody who is a one-inning guy. So they're always hard.
When you have, like we did, 39 guys at the end of the season and you've got to cut it down to 25 and there are some pieces of guys who have been out, came back, are they ready to play? Well, we've got to make those decisions. So it's never easy.
We started it the other day in Philadelphia and ended it today, so we think we've put together the right guys and turn them loose tomorrow night.
Q. Historically these home teams in these one-game playoffs haven't done that well. Do you have a theory about that? Having said that, what does Citi Field mean to you guys?
TERRY COLLINS: I don't have a theory of why home field hasn't been rewarded as much as people would think, but our crowd is electric. It's great. They get you excited to play. Right now we need to -- that excitement is going to help. We had to play hard, and so did the Giants, all the way down to the end. There were some guys that certainly needed yesterday off, and our crowd's going to get them fired up, so the adrenaline's going to mean a lot.
One thing I always think, we played a whole different part than the Giants do. So we need to use that to our advantage. We know we've got a task ahead. He's pretty hard to hit.
Q. Terry, you guys have the best record in baseball down the stretch. Do you believe in momentum or is momentum next-day's starting pitcher?
TERRY COLLINS: That's a great question. I mean, I looked at last year when we had a big lead. At the end we didn't play very good the last seven games. We got swept by the Phillies. We got no-hit. But one of the things I learned about Major League players, good Major League players, when it comes crunch time, they turn it on.
So I'm not really sure that momentum going in means a whole lot. Both of us have had to play good at the end, we did. But I know tomorrow night they can turn it on because they're a great talent. That's why even though Yoenis had a rough couple of days at the end, he's excited about tomorrow night. So I think he's going to turn that switch on, and he's certainly going to be a big factor for us.
Q. I know he pitched the second game of the year, but never really started the season as your No. 3 guy, and Matt goes down, deGrom goes down. Certainly he's a guy you wanted to build this game around. How has he handled that kind of infield battlefield promotion? Has he done better than you would have expected for a guy that's still a relatively young guy?
TERRY COLLINS: Yeah, I tell you, this guy, when he first got to the Major Leagues we all knew he had this great arm. But to sit there and watch him. I mean, he would watch a game that Jake deGrom pitched and dissect why he got out and how he can do some of the similar things but not necessarily the same type of pitches. So he figured himself out of what he's got to do to be successful on the mound. That's why I looked at this year when the elbow started to flare up. All of a sudden, even though he threw hard, he realized he had to start to pitch to more contact to where you're looking up in the 7th and 8th inning. I go back to the game in San Francisco. He pitched seven innings, he only had, I think, three strikeouts, even though he may be had the pitcher. But with their lineup, they put the ball in play, yet he made pitches. You look up late in the game and he's still got a lot left. I think that's where he's really grown. He hasn't tried to dominate so much early to where he's striking a bunch of guys out, to where all of a sudden, in the sixth and seventh inning he's out of gas. I think he's been able to pitch to more contact to get himself deeper in the game. It's hard for a young guy to learn, yet he learned it on the fly, and I think that's what's helped him make him better.
Q. Did this season ever feel as chaotic from the inside as it looked from the outside? You talked about not getting too involved in ups and downs, but you guys had a lot of ups and downs. Did it ever feel as roller coaster as it looked from the outside?
TERRY COLLINS: In the manager's room it did. We tried not to let it spread to the clubhouse too bad. But there's so much maneuvering that we had to do or so much skipping this guy, pitching this guy, giving this guy a day off. Hey, look, this guy's banged up, he needs two days and you need to fill in. We know that certainly the planes from Vegas to here were a lot. There's a lot of redeyes that were used. But it all comes with the territory.
I thought our coaches handled it great. I thought our players handled it great. I go back to some of those guys that came here from Las Vegas. Matt Reynolds being one of them, this guy took two redeyes in both games and ends up hitting big home runs for us. Because they want to be a part of it. And when you sell yourself, hey, look, I want to do something to help out, you've got a pretty good player on your hands. But our clubhouse, they manage those situations in some of those dramas in great ways to keep everybody level-headed.
Q. You mentioned the Vegas guys and one of them T.J. Rivera, what has he meant to you, especially since Neil Walker went down and the way he's been able to contribute the way he has?
TERRY COLLINS: Neil Walker and Wilmer Flores, both of them. T.J. has come in and done a tremendous job. We all knew about his bat. We all knew that he hit. Again, you don't know how he's going to handle certain situations here. Put him in the lineup, he continues to hit, continues not to be intimidated by where he plays, the situation he's in. We've hit him in the middle of the lineup. I go back and I was looking at the Bumgarner game the other day in San Francisco, he hit fourth. So, you know, hey, look, he's been slammed into these situations and he's handled them great. He's meant a lot to us. He's had big hits for us, and tomorrow night we're going to need him to step up. Because in the middle of that lineup, we've got some left-handed hitters. He's the one guy in the middle of that lineup that hopefully can do some damage.
Q. Obviously, one of the things with these winner-take-all games, wildcard in particular, it's a winner-take-all game. But if you win, you need starters. Two days later he needs two guys. Will you put Lugo and Gsellman and Colon in the bullpen tomorrow night? Will you try to hold one back or keep one off the roster?
TERRY COLLINS: Yeah, one will be held back, but there will be two others in our bullpen.
Q. What do you make of Granderson, overall, and how much did it mean to you that he was able to play centerfield?
TERRY COLLINS: Well, you look up and the guy's got 30 homers, he's got 60-some RBIs, you know, even though the 30 homers were more than he hit last year, it's a similar season than he's always had. This guy hits home runs. The best thing about Curtis is that he never lets anything bother him. You know what? I ask him to lead off, he leads off. You ask him to hit fourth, he hits fourth. You ask him to hit second, he hits second. There is never a discussion, never an argument. When I put him in centerfield, I knew he didn't particularly care to play centerfield anymore. He had gotten comfortable in right field. But he understands for the betterment of the team he needs to play centerfield. I think he's gone out and done very, very well. I think he's handled it great. He's played there before. He's got a feel for it. He's made some big plays for us. He's what you've got to have if you're going to win. You've got to have guys that, hey, look, all I want to do is help the team. And Curtis Granderson is that guy. He's the prototypical pro that comes to the ballpark every day and does what he's supposed to do to help you win. You give him a day off, and he doesn't say why am I off today? He says, okay, I'll be ready in the 7th inning if you need me. And that kind of leadership, and again, he doesn't say a lot. When you lead by example like that, there are a lot of guys who fall into line because he's a star and it makes a big difference for us. He helps the manager immensely.
Q. When your rotation was completely healthy a lot of times and Noah was talked about after Matt Harvey and deGrom just because of their body of work, and now he's kind of the man, so to speak, is there something about him that he's able to handle that? It seems like he's grown into that role really quickly and can take on being the No. 1 guy in that role?
TERRY COLLINS: You've been around Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom. You have to have confidence. You have to believe in yourself. Noah Syndergaard believes in Noah Syndergaard, make no mistake about it. And you can call it whatever name you want. Great players have egos. The great players have big egos. They've got -- when they go out there, they think they're better than you, and a lot of nights they are because they're talented.
And I think you've got to have that to be successful here. And I'm looking right across the field at that other guy. That other guy, you can't believe he is going to beat you. And when Noah Syndergaard takes the mound, he thinks he's going to win. Of all the guys, nobody likes to lose, but this guy takes losing hard. He hates it. He hates to think there is somebody better than him. That's why I think this is going to be a great challenge for him. I think he's going to grow because of this game tomorrow night. He's certainly made himself the No. 1 guy right now. And our staff, with all the injuries we've had, he's got to be the guy you give the ball to.