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October 8, 2019

Jack Flaherty

Atlanta, Georgia - Workout Day

THE MODERATOR: Questions for Jack Flaherty.

Q. Does the mental approach going into tomorrow's game sort of match the T-shirt?
JACK FLAHERTY: Yeah, it's kind of how it's been all year, especially through the second half and through every game that I've had so far coming down to the end. But nothing really changes when it comes to mentally or the approach or how we go about our business. It's just trying to treat it like another game, but go out there, get as many outs as I can.

Q. What does it mean, "don't think"?
JACK FLAHERTY: You know, there's a bunch to it. But for me the beginning of it was kind of just, when you talk about kind of athletes being in a zone or making some type of play or doing something, you kind of ask them -- or if somebody's really hot at the plate or in another sport, you kind of get a score in basketball, kind of what's going through their mind. And a lot of times there's nothing.

You kind of get in that zone. You don't know how to explain it. You don't know really what's going on. You don't know what it is, but you're there and you're locked in and you're focused and you're there in every moment.

So trying to find that mental state where nothing's really going on -- and I know where I'm at when things are going really well. For me that's where it's just -- there's nothing else going through my mind up here. It's letting my instincts take over, letting my actions take over.

And also it comes to the fact of just trusting my preparation. So I'm so prepared that I get into certain situations I know what I'm comfortable doing, I know what I'm not comfortable doing.

I know, in a situation like this, I know what pitches I need to execute, but also trusting that I've made those pitches before and nothing changes to it, whether it's a fastball away in a big count. Like I've executed that pitch before and just continuing to do that and not having to overthink things and trusting my preparation and trusting the fact that I've put in the work, I've gone through my routine, I've worked through all that, and just to kind of let it all take over and not have to overthink anything.

Q. What impresses you when you watch Marcell Ozuna at the plate this postseason?
JACK FLAHERTY: What's impressive kind of about him just through everything is that he's gone through stretches where he's been hot and stretches where he's been not.

The end of the regular season wasn't the best for him, but you never know when he's going to turn it around. He goes in, puts his work in every day. He just goes about his business, continuing to try to work to get better. And he's always in there working no matter what.

So you knew he was going to turn around; you knew he was going to get hot. And right now he's just seeing the ball well, putting good swings on it, swinging at stuff in the zone.

He's fun to watch. He's fun to watch work. He's fun to watch go about his business.

Q. Do you believe in the power of the green sleeve?
JACK FLAHERTY: (Laughter) I believe whatever works for him, he just needs to keep doing it.

Q. Understand that you're different pitchers, but what do you get from watching what Wainwright did in his start against the same lineup or what Dakota did against the same lineup?
JACK FLAHERTY: Especially Waino, the way he went out and attacked, and he was always on the attack and he was executing pitches when he needed to. He mixed up his speeds. He did what he had to.

But he just executed his game, executed his game plan. Even Dakota, he executed his game plan, what he needed to do to get outs. And I think that goes for everybody.

As long as you go out there and execute your game plan and you go about your business, you're going to put yourself in a good spot.

Q. With a couple days out from Game 2 now, when you look back at how that first inning went for you, did that go close -- there were some bad-luck balls in there, but in retrospect is that the way you wanted the inning to go, or did it go faster than you intended it to?
JACK FLAHERTY: I don't think it went any faster. You get Acuña out. And then Albies, he hits an infield single, guy can run really well. I kind of yanked a slider, got away from Yad. And then Freddie gets the guy over and just didn't get the ball in enough to Donaldson.

So it wasn't moving too fast, nothing really went on like that. It was just a matter of executing there with a runner on third, two outs, and just making one pitch. But he put a good swing on it. Professional hitter.

Freddie too, getting him over, just to ensure that he scored on a single. It's just a matter of going out there, executing. This is what we've done all year is go out and execute pitches and I have it in the back of my mind, no matter what kind of situation it is, no matter what it is, I've executed that pitch before.

Q. Talking to some of your teammates earlier in the series they almost all talked about your competitiveness and your drive. And Matt Carpenter said specifically that you pitch with anger. He meant it in a good way. He compared it to what Chris Carpenter and Bob Gibson used to have on the mound. Where do you think that comes from? Is that something you want to channel when you're out there? Is that intentional? And where do you think it comes from?
JACK FLAHERTY: I'm not sure. That's something that's kind of gone on since I was in high school. My high school coach kind of talked about it when I was in high school. He said you just turn into a different kind of animal or different kind of beast once you get on the mound.

And he said, I don't know what it is or what you think about or what you try to channel or what energy you try to bring, but he's like stay with that.

So every time I've gone on the mound, I mean, it's kind of getting in that zone and getting into that mental state and kind of whatever it takes. We're going into a heavyweight fight and it's me versus the guy in the box.

Granted I've got seven guys behind me and a Hall of Fame guy behind the plate, but it's me versus you. And that's what it is. My job is to get you out. It doesn't matter what's going on or who's in my way, but my job is to get you out.

So that's kind of -- I think that's kind of where it comes from. But that's the mental state that I kind of have to be in.

Other people can do different things. You look up and down our staff, guys are completely different. Waino's kind of that way, but not completely. Miles is somebody who, he can have a full-on conversation -- and he gets into a mental state, too, but he can -- he's a different -- he's a different kind of animal out there.

And Dak is kind of somewhere in the middle, where he's -- he's just a different kind of guy. But he's somewhere in the middle. Everybody's kind of different. Everybody has their mental state that they can kind of lock into.

Q. How will you spend the next 24 and a half hours now?
JACK FLAHERTY: Well, I'll go in, get my work in, go play catch, probably run through scouting report one more time and then go back. I think we've got a dinner tonight. Go hang out with the guys. Kind of just talk about whatever we want. Probably not talk about the game at all. Just go be guys.

And then go get some sleep, wake up tomorrow and it will be just another day of pitching. Go through my normal routine and go get ready for the game. Nothing special.

Q. You've had a chance, especially this year but really in the last year and a half, to talk to guys who have won Cy Young awards and 20-game winners, and you've talked to us what goes into being a capable, excellent pitcher, even becoming an ace. Where does playoff success fit into that equation for you? Where does that go to defining what a starting pitcher does?
JACK FLAHERTY: You know, this is your job. This is what you're supposed to do. You're supposed to get the ball in these kind of situations. And these are situations where you turn to your guy, hey, we need a win here, go take the ball, give us what you've got.

And you look back at kind of the recent guys the Cardinals have. You look at Carp and that's somebody that I leaned on this year. I've leaned on Waino in the past. Kind of took everything I possibly can from him and still do.

He never ceases to amaze us. With what he did the other day, there's no words for it. That was special. That was fun to watch.

But as the year's gone on I've been able to develop more of a relationship with Carp too. He just talks about slowing the game down, continuing to go out there and execute, focus on one pitch at a time, not getting too far ahead, not thinking about anything else that might come or all the distractions and stuff that go on, if you want to call them distractions.

But really it's just executing one pitch at a time and slowing the game down and not trying to do too much. You get into those situations, you get into these games, and as long as you go about your business and you play your game, you don't have to do anything more. You don't have to do anything extra. There's nothing about that where you have to feel like you've got to do anything more. It's just staying right there, staying in the moment, staying locked in.

Q. What does it mean to you that you're the Cardinals guy that they turn to in situations -- game 162, Game 5 here? What does it mean that you're the guy?
JACK FLAHERTY: For me it's about having these guys behind me, having the guys on the team kind of having my back, but I got their back.

We're all out here doing it for each other. It's not really for anybody else. We're doing it for the guys in the clubhouse, the coaching staff that's behind us, all the trainers that work with us, the guys that put together our scouting reports. We do it for everybody in there.

Everybody that comes with us day in, day out, everybody that's there for us. We're doing it for each other. And I think that's what it really comes down to. It's not one guy. It's not every individual; it's everybody doing it for each other, wanting to win for each other.

Q. Your opposing pitcher tomorrow pitched pretty well the other night against you; it was a great game. What's his slider like, whether you see it from the dugout or facing him? It was obviously a pitch that was on for him?
JACK FLAHERTY: He had a really good day the other day. He had his good stuff going. And when he's got that slider going, it just misses bats or misses enough of the barrel where it's a good pitch. There's not really any way to describe it. He's got good stuff, and we'll see what he's got tomorrow.

Q. Do you remember the last time you pitched in a win-or-go-home type of situation?
JACK FLAHERTY: I would take 162 as kind of a win-or-go-home type of situation. You look at every game we've played down the stretch. We go into Wrigley, start a four-game set, I don't know what our lead was in the division, but you go in there, you get Game 1, kind of win-or-go-home situation.

I think we were three games up on them in Milwaukee. You get game 162, we came up in the division, Milwaukee's playing Colorado. Everybody plays at the same time, which actually it's great that baseball does it that way, but right there, that's another situation.

We've got to win in order to -- we want to play tomorrow. And we don't want to play in a wild card game. We want to take those days and go to Atlanta. You look at it that way, every game's a big game.

But as long as we go out, as long as I go out and execute my game, that's all I can try to do. You can't try to do anything more. Hitters can't try to go out and try to do anything more, try to swing hard, try to hit the ball harder. As long as they go out and execute their game plan at the dish and stay within themselves -- everybody has to stay within themselves -- we've got guys who have been there, done that.

You go up and down the order: Dex on the top, he knows what it takes; Yadi; Waino; Carp; Kolt; all these guys, we've got everybody else who, for us all we can do is go out there, play our game, stay within the moment.

It's going to be fun. It's going to be exciting. It's going to be great. There's a great team over there. It's just one of those things you kind of look for. And you've got to be excited about it. Come on, you got Game 5, win or go home. What's not to be excited about?

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