Cubs reliever Hector Rondon suggested before Sunday night’s game that one of the reasons he and possibly Aroldis Chapman haven’t looked as sharp this postseason as they did during the regular season is because of the way they’ve been used in roles they’re not used to.
Told that manager Joe Maddon had theorized that Rondon and Pedro Strop might still be working back into midseason form from time on the disabled list late in the season, Rondon disputed that idea.
“It’s tough. It’s tough to say something. But right now we don’t pitch like we were [being used] before,” Rondon said. “We’re used different. In the regular season, we never pitched like matchups. We always came in the seventh and eighth innings.”
Rondon, who said he’s at full strength, isn’t complaining or making excuses.
“Right now I know we have more flexibility in the bullpen,” he said. “We’re fine. We’re ready. By the fourth inning, at least, we start getting ready mentally and sometimes they bring us in, in different situations we’ve never been. Sometimes we learn from that.”
Rondon said the relief crew was told well ahead of the postseason how they might be used. It just has taken some getting used to, he said. That seems to include Chapman, who has been used twice in the eighth this postseason with men on base and nobody out.
Both of those situations resulted in blown saves, although he struck out the first two he faced with the bases loaded Saturday, then allowed a tying single before getting the final out.
“If you look at it retro-spectively, the reason we won that game was because of Chapman,” Maddon said, referring to him limiting the damage to that lone two-run hit, with the Cubs going back ahead in the bottom of the inning. “I put him in a really bad spot.”
Rondon suggested it’s up to the late-inning setup and closing corps to adjust.
“We were never used like this in the regular season,” he said. “We’re mentally prepared. But sometimes when we come in it’s not [familiar]. . . . We’re ready. We’re ready for any situation.”
Maddon bumped low-wattage lefty hitter Jason Heyward down to eighth in the batting order rather than remove the Gold Glove right fielder altogether and use Jorge Soler or Albert Almora Jr. in his place.
“[The Dodgers’ Clayton] Kershaw is oppressively difficult on lefties,” Maddon said. “You saw what the defense did [Saturday] night. It cannot be discounted. Primarily, we wanted to put our best defense on the field again.”
Montero gets start
Maddon said Game 1 home run hero Miguel Montero will start behind the plate Tuesday in Game 3, paired with right-hander Jake Arrieta, as he was in the NLDS against the San Francisco Giants.
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