Q. Clint, with today's scheduling, it's pretty unusual to see the same pitcher three times in three weeks. How does that affect your preparation for Arrieta?
CLINT HURDLE: Well, it just adds to the volume of information that we have as far as video. I think we've -- what we need to do is find a different way for us to get some things done, and we're well aware of what he's done, how he's performed, the pitch sequences, the stuff, how it plays out. He's been a very competitive pitcher and one of the elite pitchers in the league.
So I think more than anything, it reinforces our game plan. We're going to have to make some adjustments.
Q. With these two pitchers, is it almost a hockey game feel, first run to score might be the difference? Do you feel like small ball early or manufacturing could be a big thing? Or what do you think?
CLINT HURDLE: Well, it very well could be. You take the numbers and you watch the way they both have pitched, would make all the sense in the world. I encourage you to write your story line right now then.
What it comes down to is the beauty of the game and what can take place once men get on the mound and teams take the field, you get your at-bats and play in what could be a very well be a low-scoring affair, and that would seem to be the reach and then some different things happen from time to time.
So I don't know. We're prepared to go out and have to have battle at-bats from the start of the game to the end of the game and try to outcompete the men they put on the mound, and vice versa, play solid defense and find a way to score one more run than them.
Q. How do you weigh the one-game nature of this and Pedro's defensive issues at first versus the opportunity he gives you to have some power and ride a couple balls out when you're going about tomorrow?
CLINT HURDLE: I think what you do is drill down to the facts. You drill down to the facts. We'll have a lineup for you tomorrow. I'll talk to the players. Obviously I haven't talked to the players yet in the lineup, so we'll have a lineup ready. I think you have honest conversation with your staff and the people that are involved with everything, and it comes down to strengths versus challenges.
So I've got a lineup in mind that's been taken care of. My mind has been made up and set and we're moving forward, and we'll share that with you at an appropriate time.
Q. When you spoke a couple times about sticking with Polanco through a rough stretch this year and the private talks you had with him and things, can you talk about the confidence you have in him perhaps playing on this, what would be his biggest stage that he played on this this point in his career tomorrow night?
CLINT HURDLE: It's a great opportunity for him, because last year he missed out on the September part of the season, really a play-in game, then the Wild Card game. He's developing and working hard to get better. We've seen so many good things from him throughout the second half of the season. Such good growth, whether it be pitches per plate appearances, ability to barrel the ball up from line to line. He's put down some bunts and stolen some bases. The throws he's made from the corner with the reverse spin, the throws from the bottom, the Clemente wall, all of it has become very, very fun to watch.
He's still got more room for growth, and this will be another added experience that he doesn't have that he will be able to have and put in play as well which I think will make him better moving forward.
Q. The past two years you've gone 16-9 in terms of position players and pitchers. When you're thinking about the situation, this particular game, guys being successful on 19 of 20, their last stolen base is against Arrieta, you're not having a third catcher who has any experience. How are you going to approach putting this lineup together and the roster together maybe differently than you have in years past?
CLINT HURDLE: It will be different. We're done, we're finished, it's all been done. It's been taken care of. That will be announced as well as an appropriate time. The players will be the first one to get it.
It's not like you can go get a third experienced catcher right now. You have who you have, and I do think from our standpoint, we've carried a third catcher the past two years, so I don't anticipate any changes along those lines.
We have some opportunities to do some things better than we've done before, and we plan on actually, the definition of this game is a Wild Card game, and there are just some things that we're looking at that we need to do different than we've done in the past, so there is maybe a little Wild Card mentality for us as well.
Q. Clint, what is your feeling just about the one-and-done format for this round? And given what a great team game baseball is, what did you think last year watching the impact Bumgarner had playing out through October?
CLINT HURDLE: As far as Bumgarner, I was glad everybody got what we got. Well, because we got shot down pretty quick, and everybody threw their hands up in the air and said, Well, that's it for the Pirates. That's all they've got. Everybody got some of that. That was a lot. So I was glad everybody got it, truthfully, because that's as good of pitching as I've seen done in quite some time, and everybody deserves to face the best, and everybody got to that was in the tournament.
One-and-done? It is what it is. I'm not going to overcook it, for me, this isn't the time to have the conversation, basically. I think there are better questions we all could ask and talk about. I'm sure there will be more conversation moving forward, just about how everybody feels. The one thing I am aware of, it's hard to penalize teams that have won their division by making it longer to play. And sometimes people that aren't connected to that don't care about that, and that's real.
To take a day or two off, that's fine, that's easy. To take five, six, seven, eight, that's not easy. That's very challenging, so I think that has to be kept in concept as well.
Q. As the only team that's played in multiple Wild Card games and now your third, what is the balance you can draw between we've been here before and we're comfortable with some of the situations that may go on? And also, say this game is its own animal this year?
CLINT HURDLE: I think this game is its own animal this year. It's a one-game format. This is the fourth time I've done it. Back in 2007, we had a Game 163. So it's great TV. There will be a lot of people watching. It's probably a great revenue maker. You've got to love the concept.
Other than that, it's great sport. It's been drawn up. We knew the rules coming in. I don't know really how much you draw from. I'm just glad the opportunity to play at home, I do think is significant. Now we've got to go out and play well at home. But it will be fun. It's the postseason. Only a few teams are in, and there are a lot of teams that are going to be watching. So it's added experience and value to everything we've done.
I believe it's another sign of some tangible evidence of some success for the organization, everybody that works in this organization, everybody that puts something in every day from the season ticket holders to the vendors, to everybody. There is a pride and passion here now that's significant that hasn't been here in a long time. So this is the first step for us and the first opportunity, and I think it adds value a lot of places that a lot of people probably don't look at.
Q. Gerrit's fire that he brings to the mound has been obvious. It's one of the reasons you guys drafted him. But how much better has he gotten in sort of controlling his emotions as he's gone through basically year three? What did you guys sort of do to help him, I guess, corral that?
CLINT HURDLE: Well, I think you just let him grow up. You let him pitch. You let him experience success. You let him experience failure. He had to battle through injury. Life. He Got engaged. So many cool things going on in his life and his ability to compartmentalize them personally and professionally. He respects everything about the game and he fears absolutely nothing about the game. That's a wonderful place to be.
It's where you encourage all your players to get to, coaches, anybody that's a part of this game that wears a uniform should have that mindset, and he came in the door with that mindset. Now it's just refining a little bit with every outing a little more experience. With every year behind him, a little more experience. He was able to do things this year off the mound that he wasn't in position to do before. He's put up the innings he's put up. He's shown himself durable.
That was probably goal No. 1 in the off-season to go get a program together that was going to keep him on the field for 162 games in the postseason. He's done that. He needs to be applauded for that. Basically coming off the year that he had in '14. So he uses his eyes and ears very well, as I've said about a lot of our players. The only opportunity you have to learn is when you use your eyes and ears and he does that.
Q. The beating Cervelli takes behind the plate has been a constant topic all season. In view of that, how impressive is it that he wound up leading the majors in batting after the sixth inning considering he's beat up by the time the end of the game comes around?
CLINT HURDLE: He's done a number of things that you want to just give him a big smack on the back and hug, and that's definitely one of them. Because the average, after the 7th inning is impressive. He's caught more games than he's ever caught. I think he's caught the second most games in Major League Baseball: Am I off base there? Does anybody know, anybody care? Anybody paying attention? That was one of the goals with him coming in is that he wanted to catch more. And he wanted to do it in a way that made sense without overloading him early. He bought into the program, the physicality of the program. The times we chose rest.
And late in the season he's responded very, very well. So we're very proud of Francisco in a number of different areas and that being one of them. His endurance and physicality this year that he was able to show, and still be able to perform at a very high level.
Q. Not to go back to the lineup, but were there many or any discrepancies between gut and actual numbers when putting this lineup together?
CLINT HURDLE: I think "gut" is a tough word. Gut is throwing things around, and I like to use intuition. You research things, pay attention to things, you dig into things. I put on 15 pounds looking at pie charts the past two days. That's a joke. It's a whole new world out there to look at numbers. From a metrics analysis, you can take a pitcher and match him up against every hitter, swing path, velocity, spin rate. It's crazy. We got this thing as we needed to.
At the end of the day, our hard numbers are challenging anyway. So for me, it's all about winning one game, and I think we overcook a lot of other things, other than winning one game, what is the best team you can put on the field to win the game tomorrow night with a task that you're taking upon with Arrieta being on the mound? That's what it really boiled down to for me. How athletic do you want to be on the bases, with the gloves, in the batter's box? Do you want to slug? There are some numbers that will show you slugging against him hasn't been real -- a real big success this year in the second half of the season. So there are a lot of things to take into consideration because you want to honor every player and give them the due time to talk about them because they've all worked so very hard and they all look forward to this opportunity.
Q. With Gerrit Cole's competitiveness, do you think he gets extra motivated or fired up tomorrow night because there is so much talk and attention on Jake Arrieta?
CLINT HURDLE: I don't know. That's a good question. We like our guy a lot. Probably not. I don't think he cares about what other people think at all, truthfully. Hopefully he got that from me. The external noise that can come with this game sometimes, that's really not necessary. He needs to believe in what he needs to believe in, in execution and getting the Cubs out.
At the end of the day, he's already matched up against some really good pitchers. This isn't the first time he's matched up against a really good pitcher. He's done it a number of times. It's not like he's pitching against Arrieta. He's pitching against the Cubs lineup.
I think that's one thing he's really grown into over the years that young pitchers can get caught up in. His first two starts were against Cy Young Award winners. I think the first three or something crazy like that.
So that part of it, I think he's kind of way past that type of deal on who is getting street cred or who is getting media coverage or who is getting all that. I think he's just looking forward to getting the ball.
Q. You talked about winning this game specifically, will your approach in the third or fourth inning be different against Jake Arrieta than it would be in a typical game in July?
CLINT HURDLE: Are you coming to the game?
Q. You bet.
CLINT HURDLE: You're going to get to watch it right with me. I think we've got it, as I've said, it's a Wild Card game. It's a great term. The things we've tried in the past, not too many of them have worked, so maybe we'll try something different. I think we need to try things in our strengths as well, not just make up things that we've done never done before. I think we need to be open minded and need to be looking forward to taking every opportunity you can when you get somebody on base to move them and score them.
Q. Clint, you mentioned intuition, couple of guys are swinging a very hot bat. Guys like Josh Harrison, and you break down all the numbers and you're inundated with all the numbers, how do you take into account a guy that's swinging a good bat for this particular game?
CLINT HURDLE: That's how you take it into account. He's got the highest OPS against right-handed pitching in the last two weeks, almost a month. I can give you all kinds of numbers. You can play both sides of the fence, but you don't get inundated. You need to know them.
I do think you need to know them. You look at our roster in there, he's our hottest hitter, so how does that play? You'll all find out real soon.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports