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October 11, 2019

Adam Wainwright

St. Louis, Missouri - pregame 1

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Speaking of Scherzer, you didn't face him much over the last 10, 12 years. Now you face him twice in a month. How is that?
ADAM WAINWRIGHT: Yeah, he's been in the American League, Central for a lot of that time but I faced him when he was in Arizona years ago and then a couple weeks back. But I told him after game it's, competing against him is like Christmas for me. He's one of the best competitors out there, one of the greatest pitchers of our generation for sure. I think he's probably going to be a Hall of Famer, and it's just a privilege to get to compete against him.

Q. To follow up on that, Max was one of the guys when you were working to reinvent yourself in spring training, that he studied you and he was eager to see how did you that. Did you talk to him at all? Did you guys bounce, did you bounce ideas off of him at all? I know you guys have become friends.
ADAM WAINWRIGHT: No, we have similar games, we're both attacking with high velocity fastballs at the top of the zone and nasty sliders and change ups, so it was a lot for me to learn from him.

Q. So no?
ADAM WAINWRIGHT: No. I would love to have reinvented myself into Max Scherzer, that would have been amazing, it just didn't work that way.

Q. When you're competing a guy against a guy like Max on this kind of stage, do you feel yourself elevating, do you feel yourself wanting to rise to whatever kind of challenge that might look like?
ADAM WAINWRIGHT: Yeah, I like challenges. I like going into the game with some sort of preconceived idea that somebody's betting against me or favoring the other side or some of that. That pumps me up, I've always done that, I've always used that. But certainly any time you're competing against a guy like that you know you got to put zeros up. Our offense is very dynamic, there's a lot of people that can do some cool things, but a pitcher like Max is capable of going out and shutting anybody out. So from my point of view I'm not so much pitching against Max except for once or twice, maybe three times through the order, as I am pitching against those hitters. I got to get those guys out, get zeros up.

Q. You would have been kind of on the sidelines of the '11 run to the World Series. What was that like for you kind of being an insider/outsider and what do you remember about that?
ADAM WAINWRIGHT: 2011? I was very excited. I felt like I was a part of everything. They made me feel at home in 2011 and they made me feel a part of everything. They included me in all the chats and pump sessions and team dinners and let me travel on the road to all the different places and let me be up here for rehab. That was big for me. That helped in my mind a lot.

But separate from the Achilles injury I felt like my elbow, at that point I had already strained it a couple times as a younger pitcher and I was, that was kind of, I was almost okay with Tommy John surgery at that point. I needed to go ahead and get my elbow replaced and get that fixed so I could move on. So I had a lot of peace about that. The team just completely wrapped its arms around me. Everybody in there just did such a good job of making me feel, continue to feel part of the team. I even gave some speeches at the end of the year. They let me be a part of all that too.

But, yeah, I think anytime you can go through -- that's why I'm really glad that Jordan Hicks is here. And I'm really glad that some of the guys that, I wish all of them could be here, but I'm really glad that some of the guys that aren't on our roster are getting to experience this, because it's something that's, that can, once you've felt it, even if you are not pitching or hitting or whatever, if you can experience that atmosphere and the pressures that come along with it and the weather and just everything that comes along with playoff baseball, I think it helps you going forward.

Q. It seems one of the reasons they set up the rotation as they did is you'll have a chance to pitch two games here in this series. And your numbers here obviously were outstanding. How do you explain that? Why do you pitch so well at Busch stadium?
ADAM WAINWRIGHT: I don't know if there's a dead set reason, other than I just like pitching at home. But there's been years where I pitched better on the road, too, than I did at home. And guys were asking me the same questions the other way around. Why would a talented pitcher like Soroka pitch much better on the road? Sometimes it, just weird things happen like that in baseball. Sometimes there's a reason, sometimes there's no rhyme or reason. Sometimes it's matchups, sometimes it's -- I don't know what sometimes it else could be. But baseball has a way of correcting itself. Who knows, it might come back next year and be 16-0 on the road. We'll see.

Q. On facing Soto and Rendon, I know you can't give away a game plan, but facing guys with a combined 68 home runs, can you kind of take us through your mindset just a little bit and your respect for them?
ADAM WAINWRIGHT: No. (Smiling) Very talented hitters, I'll just say that. Very talented hitters. They have a talented lineup all the way through, but that's one of the best 3-4 punches out there in the game. Just very, very, very impressed with, what is Juan Soto, 20 years old? I don't even understand that. That's crazy to me. And this is his second year. Yeah, thanks. I could be his dad too, yeah.

I have been impressed with Rendon for years and years. I think he's one of the most underrated players in all of baseball. Probably now he's not so much underrated, people are really finally starting to notice that he's incredible, you just never hear his name. I think if he's playing in New York or Los Angeles or some big market like that he's probably one of the biggest stars out there. But just does everything well. Defensively too.

Soto, it's a rare thing when you see a young player come up as talented as he is. 20 years old. When I was 20 years old I was still four years from being any good in the big leagues. And that was mentally and physically. He seems to have great mental game and physical game. So I'm very impressed with him.

Q. The defense has played a big role in the Cardinals' success this year. Does it change the way you pitch at all in terms of what you're thinking about with batters and certain pitches?
ADAM WAINWRIGHT: I would say anytime have you a great defense behind you it gives you a lot more confidence to go out and make pitches and trust the guys behind you. It's an easy thing to just completely focus on what you're doing and not worry about anything else behind you because you know they got it covered.

Our coaching staff does great job of positioning those guys and getting them in the right positions to play ball too, so. Our defense has been amazing all year and we hope that it will continue to be the same way. We expect it to.

Q. There's obviously been a big emphasis on bullpens in the postseason the last few years. But this year we have seen a whole bunch of starters being able to go deep in games, throw 120-plus pitches. As someone who likes to do that, how encouraged are you by that and maybe, why do you think teams are maybe swinging that pendulum back towards starters?
ADAM WAINWRIGHT: I always tell you, the starting pitchers are the best athletes on the field. I tell our manager that every time he wants to hit for me. But I think the playoff starters you're seeing are just pretty talented. Bullpen guys on our team, they carried us the first half because our starters, myself included, weren't living up to the ability that we had. In the second half we pitched a much better game, starting pitchers pitched a much better game. And I think our relievers were a little fatigued coming down the stretch because we worked them so hard in the first half. That was our fault as starting pitchers. And we tried to correct that in the second half.

But when you got incredible pitchers out on the mound, Verlander and Gerrit Cole and those guys, if you have an ability like that you want to get those guys out there as much as you can, I think. When you're just looking at one month to live in infamy forever, you know, you're talking about every game is a must-win. That's kind of how teams are approaching it and they're putting their best athletes out on the field.

Q. You've faced Juan Soto a handful of times. He has quite an elaborate sort of routine between some pitches. Curious about what your view is of that and if you have ever seen anything quite like it?
ADAM WAINWRIGHT: Yeah, I've seen some things like it. He does have a lot of things he does that make him uniquely different than everyone else. I don't know what else to say about that. I think his team probably loves the edge and the mentality that he brings to every single at-bat. Doesn't seem like he gives too many at-bats away. So whatever he's got to do mentally to get into the right spot to make good swings is what he's going to do. And on my side of it I'm going to do the exact same thing. So that's the way he competes.

Q. It's been since obviously 2014 since you guys have had a shot to go to the World Series here in the NLCS. What was it like, what was the hardest part of these last four years, three years, I guess, being out of the playoffs? And even though you have some of the same guys, how is the team fundamentally different since 2014?
ADAM WAINWRIGHT: Yeah, what did we have, four straight NLCS's, a couple World Series mixed in there from '11 to 2014. Had a great chance to go to the World Series in 2012, kind of let that slip. 2013, went to the World Series. 2014, Giants beat us. They outplayed us in the 2014. But in 2015 we had a 100-win team and I think some guys just got fatigued. And we were pitching Lackey on short rest there at the end because some of our other pitchers were banged up. And I was just coming back from Achilles and I was trying to do all I could. I think the Cubs just had a very good team that were ready to sort of take that next step.

Then the last few years we did not do a good enough job of controlling our own destiny. We came down to the last week every one of those last three years needing someone else to lose and that was the difference in this year. In those last three years was that, one year we had the Giants playing the Dodgers and we just needed the Dodgers to win one game to force a playoff. And Kershaw and Hill and all those guys, just great pitchers, they got swept by the Dodgers, and we were like, come on, you know, give us some help.

But put yourself in a bad spot, it was poor planning on our part. This year we got ourselves in a good spot and were able to do it. But I think this year when you look at our team we have a complete team that is doing a lot of different things well that we haven't been doing the last few years. This year we played much better defense, this year we ran the bases much better, this year our starting pitching was a little better, this year our bullpen was certainly much better. We have had more thump in the middle of our lineup than we have had in years with Goldy and Ozuna in the middle there. So, yeah, those are the differences.

Q. The last time these two teams met in the playoffs in 2012 the big story line was that Stephen Strasburg wasn't going to be able to pitch. If you can be unbiased possibly, how much of an impact do you think that had on how that series went?
ADAM WAINWRIGHT: Well, I think anytime you add arm as great as Stephen Strasburg to a rotation it's going to help. But looking back, I don't feel like those starters pitched bad games. I mean, am I missing something there? I mean, I think those guys pitched well, they had us down that last game, Gio pitched five innings and came out with a big lead because the Cardinals starting pitcher laid an egg, and we fought back against their bullpen. But yeah, you could always point to something and say he would have thrown nine shutout, but you just never know that. Verlander gave up runs the other day, too, and I thought he was just about immortal, so. Probably could have helped for sure, he's an incredible pitcher. But we'll never know, will we. He's pitched pretty darn good in the playoffs since.

Q. With what you've gone through from a rehab standpoint the last few years, but also the team missing the postseason, do you personally reflect on competition or success differently now? Would you 10 or 15 years ago on maybe your drive home from the ballpark be reflecting differently on a day that you pitched?
ADAM WAINWRIGHT: I mean, I try to think the same. But the hardest part about the last three years was knowing that the Cardinals paid me, I won't say three years, 2016 I had a chance to have a decent season and I kind of blew it at the end.

But the last two years, especially, 2017 and 2018, the Cardinals paid me a lot of money to go out and perform a job and get them into the postseason and I didn't do it. I mean, 2017 I won 12 games but I had a 5 ERA, which hurt. The whole time I was trying to make something out of it. And missing by one game. I'm just thinking, man, if I win my 14 to 20 games like I do when I'm healthy then that's the difference right there. So that hurts me a little bit. But there's nothing I could have done about it. I mean, I tried every single possible thing to get back and my arm was just not recovering well.

So it recovered this year and I'm thankful for it. I'm looking more just at this year rather than looking back and sulking about it. I'm more looking at this year and the opportunity that it brings.

Q. You referenced that 2012 game that somebody started. How did you feel --
ADAM WAINWRIGHT: Terrible job.

Q. How did you feel after the 3rd inning of that game and how did you feel after the 9th inning of that game?
ADAM WAINWRIGHT: Well, the 3rd inning, when you go out and pitch a game, I pitched a pretty good Game 1, if I remember, and then Game 5 you feel like the whole city's looking at you. Millions of people watching across TV, fans in Hawaii and Alaska and Europe all kind of places are watching the game, rooting for the Cardinals. And when you go out and you blow it completely in a winner take all game, it makes you feel pretty low. That's where I was at after 3, I was just thinking about how many people I had let down. I came back into the dugout shortly after that and the vibe in the dugout was incredible. I can just remember Skip Schumaker and Chris Carpenter walking you up and down the dugout repeating over and over again, wow, this is going to be an epic comeback. I can remember that clear as day and everyone sort of like bought into it weirdly. We were down 6-0 against a very good team and we started chipping away, one or two here, one or two there, and then all of a sudden you're down two. And even though we were down two against a tough closer and it seemed like, just we're going to win that game, and everybody sort of believed that, bought into it completely.

It was a -- you can't fake those things. That's a feeling that everyone sort of buys into naturally that you can, oh yeah, here we go, we're going to come back, it's going to be great, it's going to be epic, whatever. And then it doesn't happen because you never believed it. But seemingly guys 100 percent completely bought into it and it happened.

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