JOE MADDON: Yeah, it is kind of a tough decision. Jon Jay has been so darned good, man. He has been a big part of our September. He's been playing that well. Setting the table, big hits, big plays. He's a really big part of our success.
Having said all that, going into tonight's game, you know, their pitcher's really good, and it's hard to like string a bunch of hits together against a guy like Strasburg. So just shows power tonight, as much as anything. You've all been watching the different games that are going on right now. Power has been playing a big part in this.
I just thought Kyle getting out there right now might be the right thing to do. Obviously that puts Jason in center and Zo in right, and I wanted to keep the infield intact and then you hopefully you grab a lead and you alter your defensive game in progress.
Q. Last year you guys had September to prepare for the playoffs, and this year, kind of had to work your way in and battle. Washington is sort of the other way. They have had a month to prepare. Is there value in playing meaningful games in the last couple of weeks?
JOE MADDON: I honestly think that's overblown, quite frankly, I do. Sometimes when you're playing those games, you can tire certain people out to get to your goal. I liked last year, also. And sometimes, you know, when we did clinch so early, I wanted to treat it as though it was spring training, which I would do again.
Partially to get people rested; I like to use that word a lot. Get guys rested and then you start setting up your pitching the way you like it. There's no downside to it whatsoever. Major league players, when you get into the playoffs or get a couple days off or if you're able to go to a latter part of the year, spring training -- I promise you, for tonight's game, everybody is going to be ready. It's not going to be about what we did last week or even two days ago. It's going to be about tonight.
So if you have rested bodies, rested minds, and guys are good, I don't think it really matters if you have to go down to the last game or not. We did that with the Rays, and we didn't make it out of the first round.
You beat yourself up a little bit doing that kind of stuff, too. So always, you'd rather clinch sooner than later. I think actually this year for us was almost like a perfect time frame. We gave our guys two days off to let KB and Riz and somebody else -- Javy, we gave off two days because those two guys had been playing the most consecutively. I think it worked out really, really well.
But I don't subscribe to either theory. Just get it done as quickly as you can.
Q. Two-parter: One, do you have a plan to, if you're ahead in the middle innings, to change back to your defensive team? And two, do you have this game scripted out behind, tied or trailing at this point?
JOE MADDON: Yeah, of course. You always try to get that done. The first part of the question, yes. Part of the thing about Schwarber specifically is they have so many lefties in the bullpen, so after you get to a certain point they can put a lefty on the rest of the night if they chose to, which you have to be aware of, which we all are. That's why they slotted for lefties, they're worried about Riz and then, of course, our pinch-hitters. So what they did made all the sense in the world.
The important thing always is to grab a lead. Once you grab a lead, then you can dictate whatever you want to do after that, and if they choose to match up, it's not as threatening. But if you don't grab the lead, then it becomes more daunting obviously. That's what the game is all about.
So yes, as we hopefully grab a lead, we'll try to switch to a different defensive look in the outfield whenever we get that opportunity. And moving on from there, we have our ideas versus them. That's how we stack some things up for our side versus their lineup, versus their players. And they did the same thing for us. That's just the way this thing works.
Q. Roster decisions obviously are always hard especially at this time of the year. How tough was it especially with your pitchers to keep guys off and to keep certain guys on?
JOE MADDON: It's never easy. And a lot of it has to do with just on the personal level, you have to do what you think is right professionally, and then personally sometimes it's difficult because you like these guys. They are good guys and they want to be on the team, and they want to be on the roster. They want to be out there and it's difficult.
And all you've got to do is tell them exactly why you did it. Don't give them any kind of trumped-up reason as to why you chose to do one thing or the other. And when the guy comes in, you sit down and tell them exactly what the discussion was about, period. And then when they leave, they might not be happy, but at least they heard exactly why you did what you wanted to do.
So this is something I've learned. It's never easy. They are not the kind of conversations you look forward to having. But have them; have them, because you will maintain the respect of the player just by being honest with them. And it's just for this round. Hopefully we get to the next round and then you make maybe other decisions based on the team that you're going to be playing against or maybe just based on poor performance in this round by somebody you already have out there.
There's different ways to look at it. The big thing is whenever you have that conversation, whoever you're talking to, just so they don't shut it down mentally. You can't have them shut it down because things could happen in this series and they could be the replacement for somebody that gets hurt. It's about being honest and relying on the player himself and don't shut it down, please. Keep your mind active and stay involved with what we're doing.
Q. On that note, what was the discussion like with John Lackey and how do you anticipate using him in this series?
JOE MADDON: Easy. The discussion was primarily about how we are going to use him, exactly, and my biggest concern was how much time do you need to get ready. When a guy is a starter, pretty much his whole career and you throw him out in the bullpen what do you need to get ready?
I've gone through this with like David Price in 2008, having been a starter; what do you need to get ready out of the bullpen? So that's the biggest concern that I have regarding how to utilize him. Already talked to Boz about it: Listen if we're thinking about Jon, make sure we give him enough time in advance to get ready.
And beyond that, obvious situation, and he's got length involved and by having Lackey on this team, it allows us to use Montgomery in different ways, so they are kind of linked in that decision.
Q. Midseason was a tumultuous time as you recall, and the team wasn't playing well. And you said at the time, I don't know what you were thinking, but you said at the time that you thought that period would make the team stronger going forward. Why did it or didn't it, and what are your feelings now the way the team came out of that situation?
JOE MADDON: Well, we split here with them and we really had a lot of guys missing. Zagunis was playing a big part in that series. I can't remember exactly. We had several guys that were banged up and Jon Jay was the hero in that last game with a ball in the right center field gap. I just thought the way we fought through that moment against a very good team spoke loudly and clearly about us as a group, and I knew -- I thought I knew, as guys began to get well in the latter part of the summer that we would have fresher bodies.
We needed to remain handy. We had to stay tight with Milwaukee, and I don't know what St. Louis's record was at the time but Milwaukee was the biggest concern; to stay tight. I thought the way we responded here against a really good team, I was really pleased with that. So I thought that moving forward, a lot of our guys leaving that night, getting on the plane, flying wherever we were going, really good vibe about it.
So I thought all that stuff was pertinent. Eventually, we continued to build upon that. We needed to get rest. We needed to get well. We needed to get our adrenaline going again. We needed to get all that stuff happening coming off the two previous seasons. So I thought that particular series really highlighted where we were at mentally, in a good way.
Q. And you had the controversy where you released a player.
JOE MADDON: Oh, was that during that time. (Laughter) see, I just tend to remember good things. (Laughter).
I do remember that, absolutely. I don't know how much that was linked to that. You know, we went back home -- that's right. I'm sorry, forgot about that. We went back home and we discussed all that and ended up making the move that we did. I can't tell you that that had a multiplying effect; I don't know that. I can't tell you that for sure.
But you know, that was a difficult moment, there's no question about it. Turner had himself a pretty nice series.