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October 17, 2017

Dallas Keuchel

New York, New York - pregame 4

Q. Reggie Jackson said yesterday that Altuve is the best player in baseball. And if he was 6 feet tall there would be no debate. He thinks people hold it against him because of his height. What do you think about that?
DALLAS KEUCHEL: I think he's right. I'm pretty biased, I get to see him every day.

There's nobody better than him. And for what he's done for the team this postseason to this point, he's hands down the MVP. He should be the postseason MVP, as well.

Q. What are your impressions of Tanaka, since you've faced him two times in the postseason?
DALLAS KEUCHEL: Well, one, he's a very good pitcher. And if it weren't for some extraordinary performances we'd be singing his praises multiple times.

When I've pitched against him in the regular season and in the postseason, it's a feeling that you have to be on top of your game because there's not going to be a lot of runs produced from our part. That brings a challenge in itself.

But he's handled this media, this city, this team very well. And that in itself is pretty impressive, too, coupled with the fact that he's a very, very good pitcher.

Q. You pitched obviously in the Wild Card which was an elimination game. How about pitching in this game, even though it's not an elimination game, but about the stakes of this one?
DALLAS KEUCHEL: They're always extremely high. The Wild Card game obviously was a win or go home. So that presented a different challenge. But just being here at Yankee Stadium with the 2-1 lead, kicked our butts yesterday. So we knew we were in for a challenge anyway being up 2-0.

But there's different circumstances. You had the lead, you're supposed to win the series or you're tied 2-2 when I take the ball tomorrow, it's all on you.

There's going to be different challenges depending on how this game ends up, and I look forward to it. But just being here it brings a sense of calmness just because of the fact that we did win the 2015 Wild Card. But then again, that was two years ago. So this is a whole new team, a whole new challenge. And this is what we play for.

Q. In Game 1 Tanaka didn't throw a split nearly as often as he did. You didn't throw your change-up like you might often. As it applies to you, was it a game-planning decision or was it just a feel, you had other things working?
DALLAS KEUCHEL: It mainly was a feel. That's a good question. Because I'm usually throwing 10 to 15, maybe 20 percent change-ups, especially to this group being such good fastball hitters.

But through the course of the game, pitch to pitch, at-bat to at-bat, it seemed like there was no need to change up what was working. And I'm a big stickler if I can go with plan A and they don't make adjustments or I don't need to make adjustments, then I'm not going to show plan B.

And it was just the fact that I had some really late movement on my two-seam and my slider was really good, the cutter was decent. So I didn't feel the need to change speeds with the change-up.

And hopefully that comes into play tomorrow where they only saw one change-up. And I'm sure Tanaka would say the same thing, to where he actually held a pitch back where he didn't need it. And it might come in handy for him tomorrow.

But the change-up usually is the second- to third-best pitch. And for me to not use it hopefully will come into play for me tomorrow.

Q. When you're making that assessment during the game is that you kind of understanding, observing the movement that you're getting on pitches or are you reading swings or some combination?
DALLAS KEUCHEL: Yeah, it's a good combination. And I read every swing, every non-swing. And that's one of the joys I get of pitching. That's one of my jobs as a pitcher. You only get to pitch once every five days. In the playoffs it might be a little sooner than that. But for me to go out there and not be prepared, even pitch to pitch, would be doing an injustice to the team for the Astros.

So I do everything I possibly can. And that's reading swings, that's reading non-swings, like I said. And that's really a joy because that lineup over there is really, really good. And they have some of the biggest thumpers in the League, but they also have some gritty, grind-out guys that kind of test you in the sense that you're making really good pitches and they're fouling them off.

And it's like in a normal at-bat guys are getting out three to four pitches where you're throwing seven to eight pitches to Brett Gardner, how in the world did he hit two of those pitches or foul two of those pitches off? He's a really good hitter. He sets the tone for those guys. And that's just one example of their lineup, I've got still eight other guys to go.

Reading swings in between pitches is one of the fun things in my job. So it's just a combination of a lot of little things that go into my mindset pitch to pitch. Which really allows me not to stress out about the situation or feel too pressured about the moment at hand.

Q. Along those lines, do you feel as though you have to be more precise or more fine considering this team just saw you? It's the same team.
DALLAS KEUCHEL: No, I mean, they showed me some quality takes in Game 1. And very similar to what the Red Sox did. I made no bones about it, the Red Sox are the most knowledgeable group of hitters that I've ever pitched against. That's a compliment to their coaching staff, to their front office, to getting them ready, to the players to having a game plan.

I think the Yankees had a very good game plan going into it. If you want to throw some fastballs in the outer corner, we're going to take those borderline pitches and make the umpire put pressure on himself to call the ball a strike.

And I got ahead of a few guys, but not as many guys as I would like to in their lineup. So props to them for doing that, because a ball or strike or one or two pitches here or there it's a changed at-bats, it's a change in the course of the game.

And luckily I was able to get ahead and have a good feel for my off-speed and get strike one and put those guys in defense mode early enough and not into attack mode.

Q. You've had a lot of success against the Yankees, a lot of Yankee fans are aware of that. You're a pretty recognizable guy. This week while you're in town, on the street, the hotel, have you had any interactions with any Yankee fans?
DALLAS KEUCHEL: I usually always do. And that's also one of the joys is when you're doing your job correctly as a visiting player for the visiting team against the Yankees, people always are going to have choice words for you. So I fully expect that.

It's not just me, though. There's a lot of other guys on the team that have done well for one reason or another.

But to have some boos last night getting introduced, that was a nice feel. You get boos against the evil empire at the home turf, it makes you feel good just because you're doing your job correctly. Obviously my job is to win for the Astros.

But you got autograph seekers here, so there's always nice. You've got the other end of the spectrum where they're singing your praises more so than they should, and it's, Keuchel, you're the best pitcher ever. Can I get your autograph? Stuff like that.

You get both ends of the spectrum, especially now in the Championship Series, when you're two wins away, they're three wins away from going to the World Series. That's what makes my job fun. That's what makes life enjoyable here in the city.

Q. It's a fun town, the louder it gets, the higher the stakes, the more it feels like wiffle ball in your backyard. When did you discover you're most comfortable when the stakes are at the highest, the crowd, the atmosphere is at its loudest?
DALLAS KEUCHEL: I don't know if you ever realize that, you just cherish the moment. Because for us the moment doesn't last forever. It doesn't even last a very long time. If you're fortunate enough to get ten years in this League you're doing something right.

And when I look back each season I appreciate the opportunity that I've had, the special moments in the season. And this by far is the most special moment because we're two wins away from the World Series, yet it's a very long ways away. And especially in a city like New York where the Yankees are so storied.

And that's why I cherish the big moment. It's not like I'm ready for the big moment. You prepare yourself as much as possible, and I put myself in a position to be there but you just cherish it and know that your preparation is going to pay off and that's what I do.

Q. Couldn't help noticing, a couple of times you mentioned that something is one of the "joys" of your job. Can you describe, is there one that maybe we wouldn't think of and another one of the joys that you can identify?
DALLAS KEUCHEL: There's a lot of joys, that's why I keep reiterating it. You're talking about the course of the game or talking about --

Q. The course of the job.
DALLAS KEUCHEL: Well, one of the joys, one of the biggest -- there's two joys that I really take pride in, and that's when I'm warming up in the visitor' bullpen and getting heckled by fans because they've had some beverages, usually there's a funnel cake or like a hot dog, which smells really good. But just warming up knowing that you're going to compete, you're going to do your job is one.

And then when you finally take the mound in the bottom of the first, after that last warmup. And I remember my dad on June 17th in 2012, when I made my debut in Arlington against the Rangers, who were stacked, I was really nervous but prepared, and my dad just told me to take a deep breath before I threw that first pitch and just kind of savor the moment because you're never going to have a first pitch ever again in your career for a Major Leaguer.

So every time I take the mound you'll see me kind of step off the mound and just take a deep breath and look around the whole stadium and see the amount of fans there. But just cherish it, because it doesn't last forever, like I said, and sometimes it lasts shorter than what you would like. That's the biggest joy is right before the first pitch is taking it all in, appreciating everybody cheering, booing, eating, drinking, and just having a good time.

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