Q. When your season ends the way it did last year, do you address something like that when you begin Spring Training this year?JEFF BANISTER: We referenced it, yes. I don't see how you can't reference it. We talked about it a little bit but we didn't dwell on it
Q. When your season ends the way it did last year, do you address something like that when you begin Spring Training this year?
JEFF BANISTER: We referenced it, yes. I don't see how you can't reference it. We talked about it a little bit but we didn't dwell on it or really go in depth.
Q. What led to Cole starting Game 1 over Yu?
JEFF BANISTER: I think there were a number of factors in play here. I think the body of work Postseason, number one. Body of work career, two. Former World Series MVP. And then you dig a little deeper you get into some of the other variables, the structure of some of the other guys that we have in the rotation. Yu Darvish being one that -- Tommy John recipient, the way the playoff structure is and five games set with the days off, if need be, your number one starter can come back on short rest if you so choose.
And so looking at all of our starting options, that was another part of that equation. And then the best one of all is we like him starting it all off for us. He's been there before.
Q. I'm sure I'm going to butcher this quote, but I think there have been occasions this year where you've told us something to the effect of "we play this game with emotion but not emotionally."
JEFF BANISTER: Uh-huh.
Q. Given everything that's taken place between the Blue Jays and the Rangers last Postseason, this May, how does that phrase impact this series?
JEFF BANISTER: Well, I like to look at it this way that this is -- this is a different series, different year. I think every series takes on its own personality. Obviously there are things that get brought into this series with all the previous meetings and games played.
However, it's two teams that are playing for the same thing. And that's the right to continue on to the next series and beyond. We've played some highly contested games, in my opinion, we've played some great baseball against each other.
Look, there was -- you can look at the last game and kind of pinpoint the last game of the series last year. If you take that game away, some incredible baseball played in that series. And you can't take that away.
Both teams just really played incredibly well. There were some things that went on in those games that as a -- you don't have to be a casual baseball fan to enjoy.
This year there were some highly contested games in two series. That one in Toronto that -- I mean, it had a playoff atmosphere early on in the season. And then here in our ballpark, everybody saw kind of how two teams played emotional.
But at this point, I gotta believe that the emotion of this series is based on playing well, performing well, and moving on to the next round.
Q. How important is it -- I was thinking about this last night, how important is it in Postseason for a team to be able to manufacture runs rather than rely on the home run? And how do you think your team has done in regard to that this season?
JEFF BANISTER: I believe it's crucial. When you get into these games and you're facing the No. 1s and No. 2s and 3s, and possibly the fourth starter, you're getting their best.
And those guys don't generally give up the long ball a lot. And so they're generally close games. So the ability -- we saw it last night, the ability to be able to -- I think it was a close game.
Now, they hit, there were, what, three home runs that decided the game. However, at any given time inside that game able to push a run across, that's a different ballgame.
And I believe, to follow up and answer the other part of that question, that how do I feel that our club has done: I think we've done extremely well at it. You look at just the number of one-run games we've played, inside most all those games there were situations where we needed to manufacture a run, whether it was taking advantage of a miss-thrown ball, a ball in the dirt, moving a runner, a sacrifice fly, something that early on last year we were not well versed at. It was a challenge for us.
And the commitment to being able to do those type of things to continue an inning, to put another run across the board has been vital to our success.
Q. You mentioned Yu Darvish and the Tommy John surgery. Is he at a place where you feel he's fully recovered from that and you can go to a pitch level, pitch count number where you couldn't prior to that surgery?
JEFF BANISTER: I think we've been conservative in some degree with Yu so that we can get him to this point. I feel comfortable with our usage and how we've treated him and the pitch count. I think he's comfortable with how he feels based on the last couple of outings and how he's let the ball go, how he's treated the first two innings of the game where he's attacked the strike zone with a fastball and it's been his A fastball, really letting it go. You see the velocity early.
So I think there's a lot of confidence in him and how he feels where this is a new normal for him, what it feels like throughout the game. So, yes, the answer to your question is I think we're in a good place of being able to allow him to go where we need him to go.
Q. Where do you stand in terms of -- I know you don't say it until tomorrow -- where do you stand in terms of setting your roster? Particularly have you answered the question of seven or eight relievers?
JEFF BANISTER: I haven't answered that question yet. I don't think right now I'm going to answer that question. I reserve the right to be silent on that one until the appropriate time. And I just feel like that we are still -- there's still some internal discussions on where we're at there.
But as far as the roster, we're down to, I think, we're pretty solid where we think we need to go.
Q. To follow up, it seems like Shin-Soo Choo is probably prominent in your discussions. How do you guys evaluate where he is right now?
JEFF BANISTER: Yeah, I mean, you'd be correct. Choo is in a good place right now. I think he answered the question three games in a row, outfield, where his body is. He's in shape. His legs are good. Felt like the at-bats had some rhythm and timing to him. Couple of hits, professional in the way they looked.
I only believe that there was one at-bat where he really, it was against a left-hander and it was the first night, where the velocity seemed to get him. In a sense to where he didn't seem to pick up the ball well off the left-hander.
But from that point on I feel like the at-bats have progressively gotten better the last day. And even into yesterday where we had the simulated game and he got a number of at-bats yesterday where it felt like he was right on time. The rhythm was there. He barrelled some baseballs, didn't chase, took some balls in a non-competitive situation that -- look, a lot of guys get in those type of things and just treat it as such, glorified batting practice. He was competing. So I like what I saw.
Q. This team has looked for to have a true No. 1 and a true No. 2 in its playoff rotation for its entire playoff history. You've got that now. You often talk about whether a guy can -- a team can ride a player's back. Can this team ride a 1 and 2 alone all the way to the World Series?
JEFF BANISTER: Given that a team is constructed of 25 players -- the challenge for me in answering that question is that even the No. 1 is so dependent on every other player on that team.
The one in front of him and the seven behind him, the DH that hits for him. And then the guys who sit on the bench and the relievers who come in behind him.
So can we ride -- look, I think that the thing that when I look at our club -- internally we evaluate our club. But what is special most about our team is that there is not one individual player that you can say has -- there's some guys that up and down our lineup that it would be hard, if you took the names off the numbers, it would be hard to pick out an MVP.
When you start putting the names on the numbers, it's very easy to pick one. And so to say that to ride one single player, two single players, that's a challenge for me, because this is such a team sport. We stand alone, yet we're so interconnected.
Now, to have two guys of that caliber at the front end of the rotation is, it's a good feeling going in. And they still have to go pitch well.