After Thursday nights loss to the Beloit Snappers, I sat down with Timber Rattlers manager Matt Erickson to discuss the playoffs, and what effect winning the first half has on a team.
CCC: With next week being the beginning of the playoffs, what preparations have you and the coaching staff put in place to make sure that the team is ready for the next phase of this season?
ME: We’ve talked a little bit about our pitching staff and how we want to set it up. I don’t know if we’re totally committed to it yet, we’re still talking about some things there, so I don’t know if I want to release that quite yet, but the overall health of the team is important. You want to be as healthy as you can and it was unfortunate we lost (Greg) Hopkins in our last home-stand to a ruptured quad, so he’s done for the season.
Tomorrow (Friday) and the next three days, I’ll rest people who need rest, and those who are healthy will play, and hopefully we can get on a little run here.
CCC: With the new infusion of talent in several players that have been added recently, along with the constant churn that A-ball has as guys go up, guys go down, are there guys you are going to be looking towards more than others? Possibly those that have been with the team longer?
ME: Yeah, it’s pretty much that you’re going to run the hot hand out there when the game is on the line. Right now it is very much a developmental stage, and it really is throughout the season. You don’t really always have the matchups that you really want, but you’re going to get innings to the guys that are up, at least as far as the pitching staff is concerned, but yeah, there will be a bit more matching up in the post season. Whoever is throwing the ball good down there is going to get the ball.
CCC: With winning the first half, do you feel that it’s more of an advantage or a disadvantage, considering how sports have been the last several years where we’ve seen a lot of teams take a hot hand from the end of the season and run it all the way to the championship?
ME: Sure. I’m never going to argue with winning. Whether it be at the beginning of the season, the middle, or the end, but you’re right. Most of the teams, especially in baseball the last few years, are the teams that get hot towards the end and have a belief, and that’s really the run that we got on in the first half.
It was really a similar situation in the first half, as to how it ended. These guys (Beloit Snappers) came in the series before the last, we were up by a game or two, and we swept them at home which pretty much locked up the first half for us. We were playing good baseball, and we were on a run. Now, they’re playing good baseball, us, not so much at the moment. Hopefully, we have 4 games left at the end of the season and we can find that belief and take that right into the playoffs.
The Timber Rattlers are 1-1 in their last 2 games, with Saturday’s game being postponed and rescheduled as part of a double header this afternoon against the Burlington Bees.
The first round of the playoffs kicks off on Wednesday, with the Rattlers on the road to face their as yet to be determined opponent. The series then comes home to Fox Cities Stadium for games two and three to be played this Thursday and Friday. Tickets are available through the teams official website.