Chicago Cubs’ skipper Joe Maddon told reporters before the start of the NLDS with the Washington Nationals that if it had been Max Scherzer on the mound in Game 1 of the best-of-five series, his lineup might have been different than it was.
“Right now, the lineup, pretty much probably would have been the same I think. I'm not 100 percent sure. I think so. There might have been one adjustment only,” Maddon explained.
In his press conference on Sunday afternoon, Maddon talked again about how he might line his team up against Scherzer, now that the defending NL Cy Young winner, who injured his hamstring in his final regular season outing, is ready to go against the Cubs.
“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,” Maddon said.
“It's probably [Kyle] Schwarber. I'd guess Schwarber,” Dusty Baker said, when asked to speculate on the opposing manager’s plans.
Scherzer, as Maddon mentioned, has dominated right-handed hitters this season, with a .136/.187/.237 line against vs lefties, as opposed to his .215/.299/.392 line against vs right-handers in 2017.
“He is getting ready for it,” Baker said of the possibility of Scherzer facing a left-hand heavy Cubs’ lineup.
“I mean, it's been happening all year. They always try to squeeze left-handed bats in on Max, always. So whoever that left-handed bat is, we just have to figure out, you know, whatever his Kryptonite is and how to get him out. That's what [Pitching Coach] Mike Maddux is one of the best at figuring out, how to get guys out.
“I mean, if you can hit, it don't really matter what side, the way I look at it. And if he can really pitch, then it don't really matter who he's facing really. I mean, he'd probably rather face right-handers than left-handers, but hey, man, like I said, if you can hit, you can hit. And you've probably been hitting for a long time. You probably just didn't start hitting.”
Nationals’ hitters will be facing a starter, in Jose Quintana, that they aren’t particularly familiar with, with just 24 plate appearances total between Howie Kendrick (5 for 10), Adam Lind (2 for 5), and Matt Wieters (2 for 3), the only three batters who’ve seen the left-hander.
“There's an advantage if he making his pitches,” Maddon said of the Nationals’ lack of familiarity.
“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 [hitters], 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.”
Quintana, 28, will be making his first postseason appearance in his sixth major league campaign. He said Sunday his approach will be the same as always when he takes the mound, even though he hasn’t seen many of the Nationals’ hitters either.
Washington, as a team, put up a .275/.331/.456 line against lefties in 2017, good for 2nd/6th/2nd across the line in the National League.
“I think the approach never changes,” Quintana explained, “so I just try to target and I checked a lot of videos against them. I've never faced them, but I try to go ahead because it never affects me. But I saw a lot of old scouting reports against them, and my approach is to attack and try to get quick outs and try to get longer, the more I can.”