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October 7, 2019

Mike Shildt

St. Louis, Missouri - pregame 4

THE MODERATOR: Questions for Mike Shildt.

Q. If you did force a Game 5, have you thought about a starter for I guess Wednesday?
MIKE SHILDT: Jack. I think it's pretty clear. I look forward to it.

Q. How does this morning play out for you guys? Do the Braves let you know who they're starting? Do you care? Do you have the same lineup regardless of who they start? We know now, but just wondering how that played out for you.
MIKE SHILDT: No, we set the lineup. We had a pretty good sense of what was going on regardless of who they were going to start, what our lineup will look like.

Q. With the expectation that Jack would start Game 5, would there be a scenario today where he would be available out of the bullpen, or will you hold him regardless?
MIKE SHILDT: I think that would be pretty unbelievable to think that he would be out of the bullpen today. But we've got a very good bullpen that's well-rested.

So never say never. Elimination game. But you're talking about a couple of days, a hundred pitches. So don't want to compromise our game for Wednesday.

Q. It's been a little more than 12 hours since the end of yesterday's game. Where are you in the evaluation process as to what you do if you have a lead in the ninth inning today?
MIKE SHILDT: There will be a conversation. I just want to make sure Carlos' head is in the right place, make sure he's in the right frame of mind. I'm not worried about Carlos' stuff. It's about his execution, making sure he's making the quality pitches and his head is in a present state of mind.

Q. Exploring that a little bit more, when you talk about his frame of mind. Is it some of the stuff he's getting into with Acuña or is it more --
MIKE SHILDT: Just in general, making sure he's in the right place to make pitches and compete in the moment. I think that's a residual thing that's clearly got a little bit of life and -- necessary or unnecessary, whatever that looks like.

I'm not a big distraction person. So just making sure he's in a good place, mentally.

Q. Obviously you've got to get the base runners on first and foremost, but once your base runners are on, have you guys reevaluated or how do you sort through what Atlanta has done in terms of their run game, in particular with the movements, the pick-offs and things like that? What kind of effect does that have on you guys?
MIKE SHILDT: Well, we got to get runners on. We want the opportunities. I think you're alluding to the inside move with Bader yesterday. We were able to grab the first bag off Keuchel the other day with Harrison. That led to a run that ended up being a big run.

It is a big part of our game. Chicago, towards the end of the year was very much more intentional of picking, inside move -- double, triple picking. So, yeah, we're aware of that. We still pick our spots.

That was O'Day's first inside move of the year. So the one thing I appreciate about competition is when you get your opponent to do something they don't want to do or to counteract what you're trying to do, you're typically winning in that competition.

So while we may not be able to take a bag, not saying we won't, but we've also -- we didn't run as much in the Chicago series either. But what you noticed, we didn't run as much in the Arizona series because, again, a lot of picks. But there's a residual benefit to that.

How many balls have been down the right-field line because people are having to pick over and over? Five. So those are extra bases. There's also the mental distraction that comes with having to throw over or inside move or worried about runners that can and typically can lead to a lack of execution with a displaced concentration with a pitch to the plate.

So, we still see residual benefit. And to your question, we haven't run blindly all year. We led the league in stolen bases tied with Washington, and a high percentage, one of the highest in organizational history.

So we'll still be smart about it like we have been all year and use it as a weapon a couple different ways. We've got to get guys on.

Q. Speaking of that, when you got the first two guys on in the eighth off of Fried, it seems like 10 years ago, most managers would have bunted there. First of all, is that on Paulie (indiscernible) on skill set? And how much consideration did you give to it there?
MIKE SHILDT: Gave it consideration, for sure. So Paulie walks more against lefties. High walk rate against lefties, you got a guy that just walked twice. I don't know how many years ago guys would have probably bunted. Paul hadn't done it all year. I can take responsibility for that. He's also got 30 homers and has hit in the middle of our lineup pretty much all year.

And also 10 years ago if you would have got a guy in a 2-0 count that had hit 30 homers, I don't know how many guys would have bunting with 30 homers 10 years ago, 30 homers maybe not equal to what happened. That's another discussion.

But you got a guy like that in a 2-0 count, he's not bunting, more than likely. He's swinging the bat. So I can appreciate the question. Again, we had some thoughts about what we could be able to do on the bases.

Also Paulie's a high-walk guy against lefties, a guy that's walked two guys in a row. Paulie is a fly-ball hitter, so not really risking a double play. If he hits a deeper fly ball, you have two guys that can tag, especially in Harrison. And we feel like we could have done something on the bases and didn't mind our matchups after that.

So really there was about seven things that were pro letting him hit, and it didn't work out. As simple as that. But there was definitely some solid logic behind it.

Q. When you have a young pitcher like Dakota going today, is there anything as a manager that you have to be watchful for or guard against? For example, is there a tendency maybe for a young pitcher to go out there and feel like they have to be too perfect?
MIKE SHILDT: In general that can be a tendency for sure. So there will be attention to how he's competing, just like all our guys, there can be that tendency. But I'm fully confident Dakota will go out and pitch to his game.

Dakota said this, and it's really been impressive and his work has mimicked it as well, he's not going to make the situation bigger than it is.

He's just going to go out and pitch. And he actually enjoys the fact there's more people paying attention and watching. But at the end of the day it's the same baseball he's thrown since he was young, and he has that mindset and approach and it will serve him well today.

Q. With Marcell Ozuna, what are some things you're seeing in his approach that have been so effective in the series so far at-bat?
MIKE SHILDT: Not trying to do too much. I think our approach has been really good. And it's hard to sit there and say that and feel good about -- we talked about it this morning. We didn't chase a ton yesterday on Soroka. We mostly got pitches we could hit, not a ton of them. But I think that's what Marcell's been able to do. I like his balance. He can see the ball well. You see his takes; he's not jumping at the ball; staying within himself; letting the ball come to him, and just trying to put a good swing on it. And that's a good sign. So just continue to do that.

Q. Knowing that Keuchel is going to be on short rest today, is there any alteration to the way you all would attack him versus an average day, whether that's trying to work him deeper or thinking he'll be more aggressive early and trying to jump that in some fashion?
MIKE SHILDT: Listen, we've talked about this and it's a good question. All year, that whole debate, we've been in multiple times where we sit there like, oh, man, we're going to wait this guy out, wait this guy out, and we get the guy to a high pitch count in the fifth but we really haven't done any damage.

And then we've done some things where ultimately it gets down to a philosophy that I don't think is uncommon but it's definitely ours and we want to get good pitches. And if we get a good pitch early in the count, put a good swing on it, we've had a good at-bat, if that happens to be later in the count.

I think it could be a mistake to try to wait a guy out, especially a guy that's a pitch-maker like Keuchel and sit out and try to find a way to get his pitch count up and be in counts that aren't favorable and then get to a situation where you're starting to have to put his pitch in play.

You get late in the count, you may have to do that. But we don't want to do that early in the count just for the sake of trying to worry about getting him out of the game or affecting anything on short rest.

Q. This probably falls in line with the talk how you're pleased with your approach but also the way now. Does it strike you at all and do you know any reason behind no walks by either of the starters the past couple of days? It's 14 innings and not a free pass. That's unusual for you all.
MIKE SHILDT: It is unusual for us. And it really does speak to the pitching we've seen. The guys, Foltynewicz was really good. He was as good as he's probably been all year that we've seen.

Soroka was really good. He was around the plate. Breaking ball was good. A lot of late movement. I didn't feel like there was a lot of opportunities until, like you said, we get into the eighth and we get Fried in there, and then you start to see guys a little bit scattering the ball and you saw guys being able to take. I'd be more inclined to have some level of frustration or displeasure if those guys are bouncing balls or scattering balls or we were chasing a whole lot, but we're just not.

So we'll continue to take our approach, be convicted with it, and we've got to do a better job of taking good swings on the balls that are out over the plate. And that's the key to this thing, and we'll probably get more guys nibbling a little bit and look to be more patient there.


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