"We're looking at games that are going to be tight, going to be low scoring," general manager Farhan Zaidi said. "So you're looking for a manager that is going to be able to handle the pressure and handle the personalities and the added pressure of the postseason."
The Dodgers have yet to announce their postseason roster, and much will depend on how much the club can platoon its hitters. Zaidi said managers, and Mattingly in particular, don't get enough credit for how they get their players to buy into their roles and not disrupt the clubhouse when they're not playing every day.
"His preparation has been tremendous. We spend some time with him before every game. We see how thorough he is," Zaidi said. "In every other industry, being a manager is managing people. In this industry we think it's just X's and O's. But the reality is, you're being a manager like you would manage a business, but you also have to make X's and O's decisions."
One advantage for the Dodgers is home-field advantage for the first round. Los Angeles tied St. Louis for the best home record at 55-26, and the Dodgers have had their road struggles, posting a 37-44 record.
While Mattingly will take the heat or earn the credit for the Dodgers' success or failure, Zaidi doesn't subscribe to the idea that all the credit or blame should be put on the manager.
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"If you're going to tell me that the team's success is solely driven by the manager, I just don't think that's how it works," Zaidi said. "Managers make strategic decisions, but a lot of the decisions they make are 52-48 or 55-45."
After being knocked out by St. Louis the past two postseasons, the Dodgers are hoping that the third time is the charm with Mattingly at the helm.
"This is the best time of the year, no question about that," Mattingly said. "I love the grind of the regular season, but this is what you play for. It's time to see who shines and see who steps up. This is what you work for."
Steve Bourbon is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.