St. Louis Cardinals manager Mike Matheny addressed the media prior to NLCS Game 6 against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Q. I’m curious, the success Shelby Miller had earlier this year, with what Wacha’s been doing lately, and even what you saw out of Carlos Martinez, at this point, how much do you think we know about which of your young pitchers is going to end up being the best and how much do we have still to learn about them?
MIKE MATHENY: Well, I see all of them still improving. I see all of them, obviously, gaining very important experience. But they all have a very high ceiling. So it’s going to be fun to continue to push them and challenge them in some areas where they can still improve their game and I think it’s a good situation for us to be in to see who really rises up there.
But they’ve all been fun to watch, and hopefully they just keep moving forward.
Q. A lot of the players have publicly said they want to see Beltran get a ring so badly. What is kind of the vibe that you sense of how much these players want to do it for Carlos every bit as much as they want to do it for themselves and the team?
MIKE MATHENY: Yeah, I think there’s always those good stories out there of guys who deserve it by how they go about it, and Carlos is as much of a pro at this game and just how he goes about the whole team concept. So I know they want it just as badly for all of us, as they do for any one particular person. But you see somebody who has had the caliber of career that Carlos has had, and you don’t get these opportunities very often. And to be able to maximize it and hopefully be able to do something that his kind of career deserves is special to him. Just an extra push.
Q. Is it fair to say that you’ve managed largely the same way in the postseason as you did in the regular season? And if it is, is there still an urge to tinker or fix that, we’ve got to get this over with quick?
MIKE MATHENY: I think there is a necessity to do a lot of the things the same, the fact that we keep telling these guys they need to play the game the same. They shouldn’t see me going about it drastically different. They all understand the urgency and how the schedule works out and how quickly it could all end if we don’t jump on things. So you have a quicker trigger at times, especially when it comes to your pitching.
But overall I hope they’re seeing the same guy they’ve seen all season long. I believe that creates an environment where they can perform how they’ve performed all season long. But they understand, it’s a little different scenario when it comes to how we use our personnel.
Q. You’ve faced some good lefties as a hitter, you’ve caught some good lefties. Where does Kershaw rank and what makes him special?
MIKE MATHENY: Well, I think his records speak for itself. He’s very good. He’s an elite pitcher. What makes him so good is his ability, one, he has deception, he has late life, he’s got velocity and he’s got a very, very good curveball. So you’re able to mix in off speed pitches for strikes, and he has an idea of when to get guys to chase. He’s got a confidence in himself to be able to get himself out of tough spots. All of those are kind of the description of an ace. So he’s an elite‑style pitcher.
But we’ve faced many elite‑style pitchers this year, and we’ve been able to put together a good game plan. Because even as good as he is, as good as any of them are, you’re going to have opportunities and you just have to capitalize on them when they come.
Q. I wonder if you would take us through some of the thoughts that you put into the changes in your lineup, and what makes this the right time to go to Shane?
MIKE MATHENY: Well, Shane’s really the only change. I mean, you guys have seen when we have a left‑hander starting against us, we kind of stack the top with our righties. The thought process really is to try and get some more offense if we can. It’s no secret how effective Kershaw has been against left‑handed hitters and he’s a tough assignment. Jon Jay has done a terrific job for us, and I know he would have done a nice job today as well. But sometimes you can put another piece in there and hopefully get a little jump. Especially Shane coming off some confidence after a big pinch hit, and we know that he plays a plus defense. So all of that put together.
It’s a lot like what we did all season, like the prior question. You guys saw down the stretch when we had the opportunity against a tough lefty. You saw Shane Robinson in there quite a bit, and he deserves an opportunity to get out there today.
Q. Can you update us on what Allen Craig did this afternoon, who he faced and what the next step is for him?
MIKE MATHENY: Allen had a good day. He got to face live hitting, he faced Jaime Garcia, Jake Westbrook and Sam Freeman. He put together some at‑bats. It didn’t look like he really missed much to be honest with you. Really wasn’t a timing issue. He said he felt good, so that’s all things pointing in a positive direction.
Next step is we’ll probably repeat the process as we look at how things play out here in the next day or so.
Q. What were your first impressions of Wacha, and when did you have those impressions? And how much did you hear over the early course of the year, what he was doing down there and how helpful he might end up being for you this year?
MIKE MATHENY: First impression was the first meeting, which was right after he was drafted. He came in and just like all of our top drafts do, made a very positive impression, just how he handled himself. But you can’t tell too much as far as how he’s going to perform. But we do a really good job in this organization of keeping all of our coaches informed about all of our players, so watched him close. I was watching his lines, and he was doing a lot out of the pen last year, just kind following him. Had a lot of people excited about what they saw.
So got a real first look at him in spring training, put him to the test. Threw him out there in high leverage situations as far as spring training goes, and he handled them all well.
So he made enough of an impression that we could have probably kept him, but it wasn’t the right time. Stayed with the program and our process and kind of what the plan was for his development as well as for our success, and fortunately we were able to hold off bringing him up too soon. But when he came up, he showed us what he could do. Sent him back with a work assignment and he came back better.
Now he’s getting an opportunity to show it in a position like this and continues to show us why we’ve all been excited for a while.