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October 2, 2018

Bob Melvin

New York, New York

Q. Liam was just in here, we know he's opening the game. What your plans on that, and what went into the decision for those plans?
BOB MELVIN: Yeah, Liam has done a pretty good job, obviously, with the role that we've thrust upon him, what is it, six or seven times or something now, so makes sense to start him.

As far as after that, there are a lot of moving parts. I can tell you we'll have 11 pitchers, we'll have 14 position players. How it's going to go after Liam, we're still kind of deciding who may be the last guy on the 11 pitchers. So I'll probably withhold that at this point.

Q. You do have a couple of starters in your clubhouse right now. Is it possible one of them could come in second?
BOB MELVIN: Don't know yet still. That's one of the things that we're discussing right now, but there will be at least one starter on the pitching portion of it.

Q. With the rest of the roster, is there anything else that kind of has been decided that, Wendelken is in, obviously?
BOB MELVIN: Correct, and like I said, the position players, it's pretty easy. We only have 14 guys here.

Q. What are your thoughts on Wendelken, what he's done?
BOB MELVIN: Yeah, he's been amazing. We saw it last year, he'd been through an injury, and we liked what we saw before that, but I mean, we started giving him tougher parts of the lineup. We extended him a couple innings. You look at his stuff, he's got a plus fastball at a high velocity, he's got a good breaking ball, good changeup, and I think the last few opportunities kind of made the decision for us to keep him. You look at his numbers, they're really good. A little bit inexperienced, but talent sometimes plays, and he's got a lot of that.

Q. For Liam to have gone through getting DFA'ed, what does it say about him to be able to come back the way he has and to get to this point?
BOB MELVIN: Right, I think it was a big wake-up call for him because he hadn't been in that position for quite a while. Used his time wisely in Triple-A and starting on a long-tossing program, which brought his velocity back to where we've seen it at times in the past, and maybe -- you know, a better question for him, maybe a little bit more focused in what he's doing now, and the results speak for themselves. It's been nice to see a guy that was in that position come back and have the type of success he has had for us.

Q. Your decision this year to use all these bullpen guys, how did that evolve, given the injuries? Was it like one -- did it slowly come about? And was the use of the bullpens by Maddon and Francona two years ago in the postseason part of your thinking or Cash this year?
BOB MELVIN: Yeah, for me there's bullpen days, and then there's an opener and a starter after that. To me they're a little different. We've had bullpen days this year based on injury, based on a starter coming out of a game early. We did a game in Toronto that was a pure bullpen day.

But with as many injuries as we have had to our starters, we are trying to find a way to get a little bit better. Part of this was starting Liam, bringing a starter in after that, had mixed results as far as it went. Some games were good, some not. Sometimes we tried to extend Liam and tried to get him through a second inning; that didn't work. So there's been some trial and error with this. But I think the reason that we started looking at this is because we've had so many injuries in our rotation, and we're just trying to do the best possible thing that we think for a particular day.

Q. Your team is very loose. Liam was cracking jokes, was hysterical. Do you feel like you guys are kind of playing with house money a little bit? And two, is this the most eventful season that you've had as a manager, most eventful regular season?
BOB MELVIN: You know, as far as the looseness, it's just kind of the way the group is. It plays well for us. They don't get too far ahead. Obviously they're going to be excited about this game. But we've been pretty loose all year long, so I don't think that's -- we should handle things any differently. We'll go through the same routine out there on the field leading up, and you insulate kind of in your preparation and so forth. But I think it's just the personality of the team.

And the second part was what?

Q. How eventful --
BOB MELVIN: You know, it's been fantastic. I think more so because of the group of guys. It's just been such a fun group. We had similar results in 2012, where we weren't expected to do a whole lot. We ended up having a great second half, great last month. So there's some similarities as far as '12 goes. But this group of guys, the mix of the veteran guys, the mix of the guys that Billy and David brought in, especially the bullpen guys and some of the starters meshed really well. It's a fun personality team. We have guys in our organization that are really prideful in being Oakland A's. I think that's important, as well.

So it's a group that literally plays for the guy next to him. I've had instances where I've pinch-hit for a guy, and the guy who's being pinch-hit for is walking off the field high-fiving the guy that's pinch-hitting for him. It's kind of a unique trait as far as the group and how they mesh together and how they support each other.

In that respect, it's been as fun a year as I've had.

Q. You probably have quite a few guys that you'll consider maybe a team MVP this year between Davis and Chapman, Blake. Where does Jonathan Lucroy fall into that, especially how late in the spring you guys wounded picking him up?
BOB MELVIN: Yeah, it ended up being a terrific pickup for us. This is one of the true old-school leaders behind the plate that maybe his numbers might not show up for what he means to this team, and we saw it right away in Spring Training. It was a quick study from the point we got him to when the season started, and it takes a guy that has done this before, moved on to different teams, had to learn the pitching staff real quickly. He's catching everybody the first few days in the bullpen. Now with days when you have bullpen catchers, you don't see that often.

He's a very take-charge guy. Early on we had a lot of younger pitchers. Now we have some more veteran ones. But I think early in the season, they really relied on him and had some results and felt good in his game calling, his leadership qualities.

A lot of the stuff that he does shows up kind of intrinsically, not necessarily on paper, but he's been a fantastic pickup for us, and his leadership skills are off the charts.

Q. Being in New York, we hear constantly the pressure is all on the Yankees. Does that insult what you guys want to achieve and your goals and your mission when you hear a comment like that?
BOB MELVIN: I think when you get to this point in the playoffs, there's pressure on everybody. You know, being in New York for a team that we just played here three times this year, it's exciting, but there's pressure, and it's how you take the pressure. Certain guys love the pressure. Certain guys just try to insulate and take the pressure off. That's just banter that's being thrown about. I mean, our guys don't think about it too much. We know it's going to be a pressure-packed game for both teams. It's an even playing field in a ballpark that's not ours.

I wouldn't necessarily say that there's only pressure on one team. Any time you get to this point, there's pressure on everybody.

Q. You guys obviously built in a lot this year; how confident are you guys considering that you've done it going into a Wild Card being and been able to be successful with it?
BOB MELVIN: Well, you know, over the course of the season from June on, the portion that's been fortified the most has been the bullpen, and we started off with being strength -- one of our strengths was the bullpen, so we've gotten better as far as that goes. Now you get to a game like that and you have to try to figure out what serves the team best. So we've done different things, and we're trying to do the best thing for us. I'm not necessarily saying it's a complete bullpen day. We're still kind of talking about it a little bit, but the guys in the bullpen have been there, and there's more experience at the back end of our bullpen.

You look at the numbers, we've had good bullpen numbers. We're just trying to do the best thing we can for a particular day, and I think based on a lot of the experimenting we've done recently, I think they've acclimated to this and really aren't surprised by much anymore.

Q. What effect would you say Jeurys Familiar has had since you guys acquired him at the trade deadline?
BOB MELVIN: He's been great. It feels like he fit in from day one. If you were to be in our clubhouse, you would've thought he's been here all year long. It was really easy on me, for a guy that's been a closer, I felt like it might be a difficult conversation I would have to have with him, pitching in a non-closing role, and he made it easy on me. He says, I'll pitch when you tell me when to pitch. I'll pitch two innings. I'll come in the middle of an inning, and I think first two appearances for us were both two-inning appearances.

He's been fantastic. He's an easy guy to get along with. He fits in very well. He's been terrific.

Q. Two questions: First, how valuable is Blake Treinen's ability to go two innings multiple times a year, how valuable is that to build a bullpen from the back to make going from the front, like you're doing tomorrow, possible?
BOB MELVIN: No, that's huge. I wouldn't put past him being able to pitch three innings, to tell you the truth. He's a former starter. He's got a rubber arm. There are days that we have to tell him, "You're not pitching today," after pitching three days in a row, and he wants to pitch. He always wants to come in for one-plus.

In a game like this when the back end is going to be crucial and when you bring a guy in like that, we're not afraid to use him for multiple innings, and that's a serious benefit for us.

Q. And secondly, the A's had a lot of near misses the last 10 years or so. Have you heard from any guys from those guys, any of those alumni guys saying this is the year for us and watching them tomorrow night?
BOB MELVIN: Yeah, I'm getting quite a few in the days of texts and all that. It seems to be an easy way to do it. So we are getting a lot of support from our ex-A's.

Q. What do you think about the historical nature of this? I think it's the first time an opener is being used in a playoff game. And B, what does it say about the team that as you mentioned, this is your best way of winning the most important game of the year, and you'd rather do this than put it in the hands of a single starter?
BOB MELVIN: As far as the historical part, I don't think we're thinking too much about that. We're just trying to do what's best for us. And you're exactly right, we're trying to run the best complement out there. We're trying to figure out who goes where to benefit the strengths of our team. Maybe there is something to that if you're a fan or you're looking at this as the first time it's happening in a playoff game, I believe, but we're kind of past that right now, and we're just kind of focused on the game.

Q. Daniel Mengden is not here. For a guy who pitched well against the Yankees, has had a good ERA since arriving in late August and more than anything, has adjusted very well to this process of starting a reliever and following up. Why isn't he part of this mix?
BOB MELVIN: He is part of a group -- we have several guys that went to our Minor League complex to stay ready for a potential next round. So he was precluded from this particular game. That doesn't mean you might not see him somewhere down the road, if we're lucky enough to move on.

Q. I understand you're saving him for then, but why considering what he's done against the Yankees?
BOB MELVIN: I think it's just based on what we're trying to do today, and he wouldn't be part of that.

Q. Stephen Piscotty has had a special year for a lot of reasons, when you think about his year both on the field and off.
BOB MELVIN: It's got to be a very special year for him. It's been pretty extreme from what he had to go through early on to where he is right now, but to watch him throughout the course of the season get to the point where he is right now shows you a little bit about what's inside him because not only was this a difficult process for him, it was a long, difficult process for him. So when it's over, it's not like it's over and now you're back to normalcy. It took him a while, and he still embraces who he's playing for and what other things that are out there for him.

But to see him from where we first saw him where he was really reserved, didn't have a whole lot to say early on, coming to a new team, to where he is right now where he's an integral part and kind of a centerpiece in our clubhouse, and watch his personality kind of change along the way, it's been really cool to see. He's a great guy. Don't have enough good things to say about him and/or his path to this point.

Q. Do you think Khris Davis gets the credit he deserves for what he's done from a power standpoint the last few years? And what kind of impact has he made for your club this season?
BOB MELVIN: You know, he gets a lot of credit from us. I mean, he's an MVP. For our team, that's the way we look at him. I'm not sure what the credit might be outside. I don't read and look at everything. But I know the way the people of Oakland feel about him. I know the way his team thinks about him, and it's MVP quality. I think that's all he really needs, too. He's not a big spotlight guy that wants to hear his name everywhere. He just wants to perform for his team.

In our clubhouse, he definitely gets the notoriety, as he should, and he's one of the best players in the league.

Q. You talked about Treinen's ability to go to multiple innings and possibly a third inning, is that on the table maybe for some situation like tomorrow?
BOB MELVIN: Part of potentially doing it this way is you're going to have to make some adjustments on the fly. You can look at it and draw it out how you think it's going to go. Very rarely does it go exactly the way you think. So there's going to be some moving parts to this, and one of those moving parts is more than one inning for him. How much, I'm not sure how much that's going to be.

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