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October 4, 2018

Justin Verlander

Houston, Texas - Workout Day

Q. Justin, when you came here last year, you fit in so well, but can you give us an idea now the comfort level, you know everyone, what this team can do around you and how much more comfortable you are.
JUSTIN VERLANDER: Yeah, I think last year was pretty spectacular how quickly these guys made me feel like I was accepted and made me comfortable right away. That's a tribute to them and this organization.

But, yeah, you can't replicate having a full season under your belt and going through the grind all year with these guys. We're like family. I definitely feel a bit more comfortable, and I'm really excited about this postseason.

Q. I know you get up for every game. I asked Corey this question, if he gets more excited about a big-time matchup like you guys have tomorrow. Does it motivate you more extra to go up against a guy like Corey?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: I don't know if "motivation" is the right word. I think you definitely get more excited. There's more energy. There's more emotion, nerves, all of it. You'd be lying if you said it's like any other start. Yeah, you can get up for every single start -- I mean, we only have 34 of them or so. So every one is exciting, but the postseason is different, it just is.

Q. In a season where it's become kind of in vogue to do these openers and piece together games with bullpens, how much do you value being in a series where it's ace with ace and clearcut starters instead of doing that kind of thing?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: It's important. I think you look at most of the teams in the playoffs and they have some pretty clearcut starters. Us and the Indians probably being 1 and 2, however you like to slice it, us and them, them and us. Pick your poison. We both have very defined starters who have a great track record and have good stuff. This should be a really fun series.

Q. Justin, what are some of the challenges of facing Jose Ramirez specifically?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: I mean, a lot. He makes contact. He puts the ball out of the yard. He does all the things that you don't want to happen as a pitcher. I haven't faced him in over a year, so I'm interested to see the matchup now versus then. I'm sure he's adapted and changed some.

I think a lot of these guys in this lineup create problems in many different ways. He's one of the guys in the heart of that lineup that, if you can keep him subdued, you have a good chance to have success.

Q. The numbers say that you face Cleveland a lot, haven't had as much success against them as some other teams. Is there anything in particular about that lineup that has sort of led to you having some numbers that aren't that great?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: Nothing I can point to particularly, no. The only thing is it's been over a year. I've changed a lot. Their lineup's changed. It will be interesting to see what happens. I just am taking this, preparing for it as much as I can and know what to expect in a playoff atmosphere, know what to expect out of myself. When it comes down to it, I just need to go out there and execute pitches.

Q. I have two now since you brought that up. You said you've changed a lot over the year. What's changed with you?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: I mean, I -- not just this year, but last year when I got here, just pitching a little more to my strengths, I think, throwing a lot more four-seamers. I still throw some two-seamers in there. But I think just kind of overall, the adaptation of myself and how I use my stuff has changed, and some of that's analytics, and some of that's just personal feel and knowing what works and kind of sticking to my guns a little bit.

Q. You mentioned the energy and the nerves is different for the playoff versus a regular season start. What do you do physically to handle that, because you seem to handle that quite well?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: I don't think there's anything you can do to prepare to handle it. I think knowing what it's going to be like is a big advantage. I think having experienced it multiple times helps you prepare for what's going to happen with your body and your nerves. But there's nothing you can do to say, Okay, I'm going to calm my nerves. I'm going to not be too excited out there. You can't do that. It's going to happen. It's a playoff game. You've just got to know how to deal with it and how to use it for you and not against you.

Q. Justin, outside of his production and his performance, what's the biggest impact that Gerrit Cole has had, especially on the group of starters?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: Yeah, it's been great. I think he's been great in the clubhouse. We've had a lot of really good conversations about pitching in depth. It's kind of normal that starters do that, but I think somebody like Gerrit, who Gerrit knows his body really well and thinks about things differently than I did. Him and I have had good conversations back and forth, just spitballing ideas, just about pitching, about the body, mechanics, executing pitches, where you want to execute pitches against certain guys and for what reason. To be a fly on the wall in some of those conversations, it's pretty in depth at points.

Q. After having a complete year being here with this organization, how much do the players look up to you? Because you do have a lot of years in the major leagues. But how have you adapted to being the leader in this clubhouse?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: I don't know. I think, when I got here last year, I felt the respect that a lot of these guys had, but I don't know. That's probably more of a question for those guys instead of me.

Q. Following the question that he just said, what's the difference in the atmosphere from last year when you were just coming into the team, now that you have been the whole year with them?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: To be honest, not a whole lot. I feel really good about this team. I feel the atmosphere in the clubhouse is fantastic. I can't say that a lot's changed. I think, besides me being like the new introduction to the clubhouse last year and the new addition to the team, besides that, honestly, like this team -- and I've said it before, this team knows how to succeed when it needs to. Knows how to do big things in big spots. So I expect nothing less out of these guys this year.

Q. Justin, Francona said it will be fun playing against you and the Astros. What do you think about that? And what would be your word? You did touch a little earlier about playing against those guys.
JUSTIN VERLANDER: I think it's going to be a hard-fought series. I think we match up against each other very well. I think fun's a good way to put it, man. This is baseball. This is playoff baseball. Two great teams going at it head to head. If you can't have fun doing this, you probably shouldn't be playing.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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