Q. Approaching Scherzer, your lineup, you mentioned the other day that there would be maybe a tweak of one different player that you didn't start -- that you would start differently than you did against Strasburg. Is that still the case going into tomorrow?
JOE MADDON: Yeah, I'm leaning towards that right now. Yeah, I mean, just he's so oppressively difficult versus right-handed hitters, I thought it might be wise to get one more lefty out there.
Q. I know you guys talked a little last year about feeling maybe a little bit more anxiety in front of the home crowd, especially the later you got --
JOE MADDON: I never use the word anxiety.
Q. Would you how describe it?
JOE MADDON: Eagerness, excitement. I really try to avoid the word anxiety. It's not a good word.
Q. How does the eagerness compare to this year coming back home?
JOE MADDON: It's outstanding. Listen, right now, we've been playing some really good baseball since the Milwaukee series, in particular, those four games up there were magnificent. The series in St. Louis, ten games on the road, actually, at the latter part of the season, Tampa Bay, to Milwaukee to St. Louis have been really, really pleased with the way we've been playing. So you come back home, and these are our fans and they are very uplifting, and it's the best place in the world to play baseball.
So we are eager to play here all the time. When it comes down to it, when you're at home, sometimes there's more commitments, you know, when you're not here, families in town, those kind of things. But there's no better place, venue, in all of professional sports anywhere in the world than this particular building right here. We're always eager and excited to play here.
Q. We know you're a big fan of day baseball. You've got two-day games. Are you excited about that?
JOE MADDON: Well, this time of the year, I'll take it. When you get to this time, I think the energy is going to be there, plus we've had days off in between. The schedule, this time of the year, when you get to the playoffs permits that, and like I just alluded to, when you are playing in the playoffs, you'll play at midnight or 9:00 am. It doesn't really matter. It's just a different feeling, different vibe about it.
I guess we're still contingent upon the American League games today, is that right, regarding start time? So that might even be bumped back a bit further. My biggest concern is always shadows, but it's the same for both sides if you're a hitter it's never fun going up there when you can't see the baseball, even as a catcher. As a hitter, it's difficult to see. That's the awkward times, based on television -- it makes it difficult. It just is. From a hitter's perspective it's difficult to see at certain times of the day. That's the part about it -- that's the part I don't like the most.
Q. Over the last couple years, other than the National League Championship Series two years ago, you guys have been in very close series pretty much every time, and what has given you -- what do you point to for the edge that has allowed you guys to do as well in those tough series as you've done and then secondly, how much of a consideration is the leadoff spot, as you figure out your Game 3 plan?
JOE MADDON: The edge, you know, you've got to develop it on your own. You've got to hone it yourself. I think that in 2015, a bunch of young guys together, getting all the way to the NLCS, and probably in a lot of people's minds, maybe a little bit earlier than anticipated. That definitely caused a lot of guys to grow up more quickly.
Riz gets his first taste, KB wins all the awards. Addison, although he missed that series, tremendous season when he came on. Even Castro at that point at second base was a big part of all of that, and Dexter, of course.
There was a lot of edge-building at that time, sharpening. And then of course, you go through last season, and the part about last season, again, there's two things that really stand out to me. The youth of our team, the inexperience of our team, and then having the expectation from the first day of Spring Training to the last day of the season to win.
I mean, just think about it. If you're that young person in that situation, you've got to grow. You have to grow. You have no choice but to grow, and grow quickly. So I think that's what our guys did. So now we get here.
And you know, it was not the same path. We talked about the lack of adrenaline in April and May. Of course, latter part of the season it shows up; we play better, and now we're against a really good team and a very tough series.
Even though they beat us last night, I mean, our guys got on that plane and they looked exactly like they should. Dropped a game after 30 minutes and you move on, and I love that about our group. You know, in spite -- Bryce hits a home run, everybody supports C.J. They know he was the right guy for the job in that moment.
All those things matter: The team building matters, having one another's back matters, all that stuff matters, and of course I think it all began in 2015.
Regarding the leadoff spot, it's been a revolving door all year, there's no question about it. I don't think it's been a detriment in any sense. The runs scored indicate that. You might see something different tomorrow night, I haven't decided yet, but you may, but that's nothing different than we've done all year.
Q. A couple things. First of all, in terms of Quintana, I think it's pretty safe to say he was brought here for games like this in October, and he came from an environment where the team wasn't very successful. What do you need to do to prepare him, or do you, and how do you do that?
JOE MADDON: Milwaukee. I mean, listen, I don't want to keep going back in time, but that four-game series up there was really pertinent. We win two, lose a tough one, not unlike the game we lost last night, and then here comes Quintana on a Sunday -- right, Peter, was it Sunday, in Milwaukee.
God, he had a great look. I can only tell you -- we're all into reading people's faces and their vibe and their energy and all that stuff. And he had it. He has it. My only concern is that he's over-amped a little bit too much, too soon tomorrow afternoon. But he's wanted to be this guy. When he came over, that's the first thing he talked to me about was getting to the playoffs and getting there and pitching, obviously.
So listen, there's no issue. My only concern with a guy like him is that he's going to try to do too much, too soon and you don't want to leave it out there and all of a sudden have to come back. If he can get out there and get into that original rhythm, spotting it up, that kind of rhythm, he has a really good chance to pitch as well as you saw him. His last start before the season ended he was going really well, and we had him on an 80-pitch count and they got a couple singles on the ground. But this guy is totally prepared for this moment.
Q. A lot of the team building stuff that you've done, not only here but in Tampa, what do you figure when it's playoffs? Do you want to keep doing the same stuff you're doing? Any new wrinkles you see?
JOE MADDON: Breakfast on the field. Breakfast on the field.
Q. You've done that before, right.
JOE MADDON: Oh, yeah, last year we did, right, Peter? Or two years ago? See, Peter's my memory.
Stuff like that, there's nothing that they have to do on the field today, but if they wanted to, there's going to be food on the field, just something different. Lighten the mood a little bit. You don't have to thicken it up. You don't have to tighten them up. You don't have to add, you know, thoughts or concerns or worries. Why would you ever want to do that? Just keep going the other way. Keep doing what we've been doing all year.
More stuff; last year, we had an optional Halloween trip to Cleveland. I wore my Halloween suit to Cleveland last year after we were down 3-1, 3-2 and all of a sudden we go back to Cleveland. I'm not opposed to anything like that, listen we play -- this is 165 coming up.
Q. Typically, when a team splits on the road and they come home for Game 3 and not facing the ace on the team, any different going into the Game 1-1?
JOE MADDON: No, I mean, we got Arrieta the day after that. So it's 6-1, half a dozen of the other. You've got to beat the best to be the best.
Strasburg is really good, you know. It's hard to say that the other guy is better. He was so good the other night, and then Gio was good last night. They are good. Their whole staff is good. Their bullpen is better because of the acquisitions. Of course, it appears to be daunting, but in order to win and move on, you've got to beat guys like that.
So I do personally love the challenge. I think our guys do, also. And there's nothing -- Quintana, he's no walk in the park and then you have Jake backing him up. So I kind of like our lineup, too.
Q. Last year you had a lot of games against Kershaw, Bumgarner. Do those experiences help?
JOE MADDON: Again, when you get to this time of the year, you see nothing but normally good pitching, you just don't. This time of the year, you have to pitch well to be able to participate. Our guys welcome the challenge.
Yeah, they can blow you away, that's no question. That's this time of the year. Our guys embrace it. They really kind of enjoy it actually. I think it will be a very entertaining, good evening, and like I said, I like our guy a lot, too.
Q. I think you've won four out of your five Postseason series that you've played here with the Cubs. How do you use the history here, not as a burden, but as an opportunity to sort of change?
JOE MADDON: Well, you can play here any day of the year. I don't care. Two years ago, we played a Monday makeup game, at 1 o'clock, versus Cleveland and it's 40,000 people here on a Monday. Every day it feels the same way here, so when we come to play a playoff game, of course, there's a little bit more -- but again, the reaction in our crowd and our fans are the same. We've always got this energy, and to not take advantage of the energy of our group is -- well, you do. You just have to.
You have good baseball players that are well and rested, and you've got this fanatical fan base that are awesome, and you just respond to that. And you have to; we should win nearly 50 games annually in this ballpark. We came close this year. We should win around 50-plus, because we are good and it's a great place and a great building and a great place to come to work every day. It shouldn't be a surprise that we've done well here based on those factors.
Q. Can you talk on the value of Mike Montgomery?
JOE MADDON: Yeah, really important. Yesterday he hung a changeup, whatever, that's no big deal. It happens. He permits so many different things. Mike is one of the better ground ball guys that we have, him and Strop are two heavy ground ball guys out of the bullpen, and doesn't matter, right or left-handed guys.
Didn't play that well yesterday but he, being able to put the ball on the ground versus righties and lefties, he's also very resilient. He's able to rebound well from either being warmed up and not pitching or pitching a couple days. He's a pretty tough guy.
So that, and his ability, the matchup versus righties and lefties, I consider him, if you look at the numbers, probably slants that he's better against lefties than righties, but I like him on righties, also. And then there's the length component. We have two guys between him and John Lackey. He's a Swiss Army knife bullpen dude. He's really good at it.
Q. Back to Quintana I know you don't necessarily do the game plan or whatever, but he's never faced the Nationals, many of their hitters haven't seen him. Do you incorporate that in your game plan? What do you think -- I assume there's an advantage for the pitcher, at least early on, what are your thoughts?
JOE MADDON: Yeah, there's an advantage if he making his pitches. Again, you could have the most glorious scouting reports in the world, and I'm all about it, but I prefer pitchers always pitching to their strengths, first. So you try to build your strengths in versus that particular group. I want him to go out and pitch like Quintana pitches, as opposed to how so and so hits. I think we're really good at that, also.
First time through the order, maybe, if he's dotted up, he may have an advantage, maybe but it has to be about him executing his pitches. They have really strong right-handed pitchers, speed at the top of the order, bottom of the order. They are really balanced. The best-laid plans are one thing, but you have to execute the plan.
Q. You've been a big proponent of flushing a loss pretty quickly where the Postseason can be a different animal. You guys have been down in the Postseason; how important is it to be able to rebound quickly?
JOE MADDON: It's very important. Both teams are good. Both teams are here for a reason and sometimes they get you. And I actually think it's easier to flush this time of the year sometimes as opposed to the regular season because you have to. It's a short series. Both teams are good. You have to move on to the next moment. You have no choice.
If you live in the previous negative situation, then you're really eliminating all your chances to proceed. I think we have been really good at getting hit in the jaw a little bit and moving on, and I'm looking forward to that again tomorrow night.
And again, I just referenced the game in Milwaukee, win two, lose a tough one, and then come back and win on that day, the game that Q pitched.
I learned that years ago. I thought, when I was with the Angels, there was a lot of times guys would carry the previous day's loss into the locker room, which led to a loss that day, which caused them to be angry again, which led to the loss the next day. Makes no sense. None. To carry a negative moment in your life, it makes no sense, you need to discard it. You have a big lake over there; tie it around the rock and throw it in the lake as you're coming to work. That's probably the best way to come to work on a daily basis.
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