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October 15, 2018

Dallas Keuchel

Houston, Texas - Workout Day

THE MODERATOR: Questions for Dallas Keuchel.

Q. At least in the regular season, your first innings were not ideal. You had the highest ERA I think in the first inning of any inning. Did you find any parallels to how you weren't getting into the games maybe how you liked, and how did you go about correcting that?
DALLAS KEUCHEL: Yeah, obviously I would like to start off a little bit better most of the time. But I think a lot of the time I was overanxious and not letting myself kind of calm down from the pregame warm-up. So I thought I did a pretty good job in Cleveland of really kind of maintaining my adrenalin and emotion out there.

I'll probably try to do the same thing against Boston tomorrow, get in a little bit early, kind of let myself recuperate and go at it.

Q. You've been with this team a long time. How much do you embrace the opportunity to go out there tomorrow in the first home game of the series and give your team a chance to take a lead in the series?
DALLAS KEUCHEL: Yeah, I think anytime you get to play at home it's a special feeling. When you really kind of break it down it's amazing we didn't really have home field advantage just because of the Red Sox having 108 wins. So that in itself is a feat.

But just getting started off at home, doing our job on the road, splitting, potential -- we had potential to go up 2-0, but the Red Sox are a tough team, so they proved their worth. But we came back and we're here. And just trying to make sure that we put on a good show for the home fans just because we know how much they mean to us.

Q. What's the challenge in maintaining your sharpness when it's been more than a week since you started a game?
DALLAS KEUCHEL: Well, I'm the kind of who needs to get off the mound a lot more than other guys. But then the other side of it, the flipside was I barely touched the mound last year when I was going through some stuff. And kind of know what it takes to get through and make sure you're ready to go. I've been fortunate enough to be healthy this whole season and kind of get off the mound from my bullpen days.

So I treated a few of the in-between days from Cleveland like a bullpen day -- threw a light BP the day before we went to Boston. And it just feels good to get out there and face some live hitting whether it's our team or whoever. So I have just been trying to get off the mound as much as possible, try to carry that over.

Q. In the playoffs here in the last few years there have been games that have been 1-0, 2-0, and also some crazy games that have -- 13-12 type of games. Is there anything about this stadium just with the fans, October, the closed roof that lends itself towards those situations to where maybe it can get a little more special or unique here from your perspective on the mound?
DALLAS KEUCHEL: Well, I was part of the 13-12 game, so I appreciate that. I like to keep them low-scoring most of the time.

But there is a uniqueness about this stadium. It's a juice box. It's unlike any other stadium, I think, out there. We appreciate the roof for sure. But it's a special feeling when you have a packed house. I mean there's nothing like it. Just giving me chills right now just thinking about it.

And just being fortunate enough to be here the last couple of years with our playoff runs, just getting to see the fans come out and just the pregame, too, it's something special. So we definitely cherish that and it's something that we'll take with us for a very long time.

Q. When you look around the league and you see such an emphasis on velocity and strikeouts and everything and you've been successful doing it a little bit the other way, do you ever wonder like why more guys aren't like you or where all those kind of pitchers have gone nowadays?
DALLAS KEUCHEL: No, I think a lot of the time the kids nowadays are trying to have high velocity because it's the quickest way to the Big Leagues. You look at Josh James with us, just came out of nowhere, but he's throwing 100. So he's on our playoff roster. It's something where you throw hard and you can get it around the zone you've got a chance to make the Big Leagues really quick.

And if you were to tell me that growing up, I would try to throw a lot harder than I am now. But that's just the way it is. The game has kind of evolved into that. On the flipside the launch angle with the hitters, nobody's trying to hit line drives anymore; they're trying to hit it out of the ballpark. It's just what it is.

But also it's a compliment to the kids now being bigger, stronger, faster and more athletic than what they used to be.

Q. I noticed you led the league in batters faced this year. And I would imagine that's a point in pride. And maybe something you're able to do better than most guys because of your style of pitching. Is that something you're proud of and is that something that -- the kind of pitcher you are, it lends itself to, your ability?
DALLAS KEUCHEL: I think I also led the league in hits allowed too so...

Q. I didn't want to mention that. (Laughter).
DALLAS KEUCHEL: I do want to face a lot of batters and usually that correlates with a longer outing. Sometimes the first inning got me where I'm facing eight guys, nine guys in the first inning. But I do take pride in being out there a very long time, whether it's the number of hitters or number of innings or number of pitches. But I feel like I'm built the old-school way where I want to take the rock and go nine innings every time.

Q. How is removing the hill and the hitters background, how has it changed the park offensively, or the way you pitched? And second, what are your emotions as you're going through maybe the last round up here?
DALLAS KEUCHEL: Well, it's still a shot out there. So that's nice. Keep the ball in the ballpark. But I haven't really thought too much of the hill. I mean, it was so unique, especially with the flag pole out there.

Q. Your offensive numbers, the home offensive numbers are down at home the last two years. A-Rod mentioned that.
DALLAS KEUCHEL: I honestly didn't think about it until you just mentioned it. But I have no idea. Our park plays really weird. And the gaps, center field, and then it flies out in the Crawford boxes, and then right field too. You try to tunnel it in the middle, for me. It's just one of those things where you can't think about that while you're playing. While I'm watching a game I might think about it.

I mean, the other part is when you get older, it's more of a time to cherish stuff and when you're younger I think time -- I think time goes by faster when you're younger just because you don't know really know the routine as well as you do when you're older and you kind of get settled in.

So I've really cherished my time here the last three years just because I knew I kind of made myself known to the team and been in a position to where, hey, I can come in and Spring Training not be full bore and to get myself ready.

That's why I tell some of the younger guys, hey, you've got to cherish this as much as you possibly can, because I've been through 200 lost seasons and we're packing our stuff up real early compared to the other teams in the playoffs.

Q. How much do you credit your success this season to throwing more high fastballs?
DALLAS KEUCHEL: I think I threw too many early in the season. I didn't really establish myself as much as I would have liked to what I usually do.

So you can kind of say there was some success throwing differently than I usually did, but also I wasn't able to really reach back and get that one pitch that I was really confident in.

It was really weird because the first 10, 12 starts my cutter was really good and I wasn't getting through the baseball. I was cutting myself off.

But nobody really knew that just because they were so enamored with how the pitch was moving and the different pitches I was throwing.

And then I really focused on getting back to who I am, and that's the two-seam and the changeup. And I think I hit my stride midway through.

So I appreciate being able to be multidimensional. But if I were to pick one, I would definitely throw the low fastball. So I'm back to it. I'll probably sprinkle a few in tomorrow just to try to get them off the low-and-away and low-and-in pitches.

Q. You guys have four starters, and McCullers is five. You have -- in some ways you've got six or seven starters on this team who can go seven innings, Verlander, Cole. You can go nine. But you look at Milwaukee and a lot of teams are doing bullpening now and it's working on some level. I'm wondering, from your perspective, as somebody who has always been pretty much a locked-in starting pitcher, how do you feel about where baseball is going with some of those tactics, which you can win with but also there's been some criticism about as well?
DALLAS KEUCHEL: I don't like it at all. I think it's kind of a fad. And I mean if you're trying to win one or two games, I can see where you would try it out. But through the course of the whole season you're going to get some guys hurt who aren't used to throwing as much. That's why starters are built to go six, seven innings, eight innings, and relievers are one-inning, maybe two-inning guys.

So you can't couple six or seven relievers in one game and expect them to last 162 games. That's just not the way it is. But then again you're pulling up a kid, paying him the minimum salary. So it's just an evolving door.

And I think the 25-man roster, maybe a 30-man roster, throughout the course of 162 games is an ancient artifact now where teams are more willing to just do whatever it takes no matter the cost. But I don't like that.

Q. The guy you're facing tomorrow is Eovaldi, throws 100 miles an hour. What's the fastest you've ever thrown a pitch?
DALLAS KEUCHEL: That's a good question. I think I'm throwing harder this year than I've thrown in a while. So I don't know, maybe 93.

Q. Is that an indicator for you when you go and check after the games, your peripherals or whatever, what are some of the things you look for as to whether or not you were successful?
DALLAS KEUCHEL: The only thing I really check is the kind of the plane in which my pitches move. And usually after the first inning or second inning I'll kind of go in and see where they're grouped at, where -- if I got a little more horizontal movement than I usually do, I'll try to incorporate that into where I'm setting my sights each pitch and then going from there.

But other than that, I don't really focus on too much, especially velocity. It's not like I'm going to reach back and throw 96 at one pitch. So I'm more focused on command and how my pitches are moving so I can tunnel the pitches correctly and try to deceive the hitter as much as possible.


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