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October 12, 2018

Justin Verlander

Boston, Massachusetts - Workout Day

Q. What is it about October that seems to bring out the best in guys like you and other big-game pitchers when the lights are the brightest and there's more focus on you and the games are magnified, that sort of thing?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: I don't know. I think maybe just because the lights are brighter it's a little more noticeable if you have a good game.

I think you either want to be in the moment or you don't. For me I've always wanted to be in it. It doesn't guarantee that you're going to have success.

But when you're not shying away from the moment and doing everything you can to be prepared, I think that's the biggest thing. In any facet, if you walk in and take a test, and you're prepared, you feel more confident.

When I'm walking out to the mound and I know I've done everything I possibly can up to this point all the way back to my first workout of the offseason, I've done everything to build up to this moment, to this point in time, and know that I'm as prepared as I can possibly be physically, mentally and the rest is just time to go play baseball.

Q. What do you remember about J.D. Martinez when he was with Detroit? He was talking about his early struggles with the Astros and how he learned from failure, and just in general guys who can struggle early in their career and then all of a sudden find and turn their whole career around, and what you're able to see with him with the Tigers?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: Yeah, it's been really impressive. Honestly, having been there from the moment he turned his career around, he went completely revamped his swing that offseason and saw immediate dividends from hitting ten homers I think it was in April in the minor leagues to coming up and never stopped hitting until now.

Honestly, him and I had a lot of great conversations. We like to go back and forth with each other sometimes, kind of talk hitting, talk pitching, kind of pick each other's brains.

But seeing somebody like that who works so hard and turned their career around to where he's at now, as a fellow player, and you respect it and I'm happy for him. I really am.

Q. Last year you were pitching for that first ring. This year, besides going for a second one, do you also feel like you're sort of pitching to settlement your legacy as an all-time great if you have another big postseason?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: I don't know, man. I don't think about that. I try not to until it's brought to my attention. That's not why I pitch. That's not why I play the game. I play the game because I love it and I love competing. That's what I love to do. So these are the biggest moments against the best teams and the brightest lights.

It's the best time to compete. So I've always just been, kind of like, "Finding Nemo," Dory -- just keep swimming. That's me: Just keep pitching, just head down, prepare myself and just keep pitching. And at the end of my career hopefully when I look up and all is said and done, that's cemented my legacy. But as far as what I think about, it's not that, it's just pitching, taking the ball every five days.

Q. Obviously the Astros are an organization that relies heavily on analytics. How do you balance digesting the information that the coaching staff may give you while also not suffering from information overload?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: Yeah, I think having started my baseball career before the analytic blossom, I guess, I don't know how to term it, but just learning how to pitch with feel. I think that benefits me big time in games where you can be weighed down by too much information, where you don't trust your eyes and your instincts.

I think I've been able to do a good job blending the information that I can take from the analytic department and also blending just the thousands and thousands of pitches I've thrown at this level against hitters. And when it comes down to it out there on the field I rely more on my instincts than the analytics.

Q. Watching Maldonado drop out of the sky in the middle of a season and caught your entire staff, what about him enabled him to make the connection that he made with, especially your rotation, and you guys have not missed a beat?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: He cares. Easy as that. He stepped in right away and he cared. He cared to take the time to talk to everybody individually, learn all of our signs, learn all of our tendencies, learn all of our ticks, whatever it was, what makes us comfortable, what we would want him to do.

And I know that sounds pretty easy to do, but in the middle of a season while you're trying to go out there and play a game and perform at a high level, to also be able to take the time to do that and really kind of just fit right in, it's not easy to do. And I think what it comes down to is he understood, and him and I talked about it a little bit, he understood -- when he first got here his offense was struggling pretty bad.

And he just didn't care. He was, like, that's not why I was brought here. I was brought here to make you guys better as a starting pitching staff, as a pitching staff as a whole, to stop the running game, to do the little things as a catcher. And he understood that and he took a lot of pride in that, and I think that's what made the transition seamless.

Q. Obviously you had a ton of success in Detroit. But since joining the Astros you've had a huge drop in walk rate and a big jump in strikeouts. What made that change?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: I don't know. (Laughter) I don't know, man. I think I've just been more consistent. I think the last couple of years, even though there are pretty good seasons, I just wasn't quite as consistent. And I think that's something that I focused on heavily this Spring Training. I talked about it and paying attention to the little things in spring that I normally wouldn't pay attention to.

And I know that seems easy, but in Spring Training most of the time my focus is just to get my body prepared, get my arm ready to start the grind of a regular season. And this year, instead of waiting for some inconsistencies to show themselves in season -- because that's usually when you see them, I think, mostly, because you try not to put too much pressure on yourself in spring.

So in season, when hitters are up there grinding, I think that's when it's easier to see what's a little off here and there. So instead of waiting for that to happen in season this year, I really just tried to act like Spring Training was in season and try to pick up on anything that could be slightly off for me. And honestly I think that paid off greatly for me right out of the gate. I feel like I had much better feel than I usually do.

Q. You said just keep your head down and keep pitching. Do you allow yourself to think about how much longer you want to do this? And do you look at Tom Brady, do you want to be Tom Brady of baseball?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: I mean, yeah. I think the goal is to be healthy and to be strong as long as I can. I think as long as I pay attention to my body and I take care of things that typically would creep in and start to cause issues as you get older, I think you can address those early on.

And I think treating that stuff before it becomes an issue is what makes it not become an issue, as easy as that sounds. But there's no set number for me. I think I just want to pitch as long as I can.

I've had a great learning experience the last five years or so. And I think that's going to be what prepares me for the second half of my career. I said second half, by the way.

Q. Are we in the third quarter or the fourth quarter.
JUSTIN VERLANDER: Early third. (Laughter).

Q. What was David Price like as a teammate? And do you find it just kind of baffling that he's never had a win as a starter in the postseason?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: Great teammate. Really enjoyed my time with David. Him and I still talk all the time, stay in touch.

And, yeah, I do find that odd. Honestly I hope the trend continues for the short term now.


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