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October 17, 2019

Justin Verlander

New York, New York - pregame 4

Q. From a pitcher's standpoint can you talk about your mindset on pitching with the series tied or if you have a 3-1 lead?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: I mean, I guess the answer is you don't want your mindset to change, whether you have a series lead or not. Any game can swing on any moment and the series can swing on that moment, as well.

I guess you just don't let off the gas, you just stay focused and try to do the best you can.

Q. Have you had any exchanges with Max since they clinched the pennant?

Q. And secondly, 15 pitchers who threw 200 innings this season, five are still in the playoffs. Ten years ago there were 15 pitchers 26 or younger who did that. Do you see a trend developing with the success you've had, the Nationals have had, teams trying to develop more young pitching?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: I hope so. I do think teams are starting to realize pretty quickly how valuable starting pitching can be for the longevity of your team, for your bullpen, for all those things.

I think there are situations where an opener or getting the starter out of the game quickly might behoove the team in that given circumstance.

But throughout the course of a long season, 162 games, I think those guys that can go out and take the ball every five days are extremely valuable, and I think they should be looked at as such. If you can go out there and throw 200 innings year after year but you're not throwing up the sparkling numbers, there's some value in that. Now we don't know how to quantify it in this game of analytics. If you can't quantify it we don't want to value it.

But I think these teams are starting to understand that every inning a starter can go more and more and every time they take the ball every fifth day, there's a value behind that and in front of that, bullpen, et cetera.

Q. Deshaun Watson said that he's developed a relationship with you, y'all have dinner, he picks your brain, he wants to be like you, and have that kind of success in his sport. What's it like working with him?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: He's an incredible man. I think it's been a lot of fun. Obviously being in the same city and just kind of being in the spotlight like he is, I guess we just kind of relate that way.

Honestly, I was blown away after the first time meeting him, just his demeanor, how smart he was, his charisma, all the things that you want to see in a young athlete.

And it's not like I'm trying to mentor him; he's just an awesome person I want to hang out with. He's an awesome dude.

Q. As someone who has paid special attention to the evolution of the baseballs over the last few years, I'm wondering the other night when Didi hit the shot to right field off Cole, what did you think?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: I was inside because I get too nervous sitting in the dugout watching the game, so I saw it on TV.

Q. On TV what did you think?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: I don't know. I saw Didi's reaction, I guess it was questionable. My immediate thought was it's going to be close.

Q. Given the concern you and other players have raised over the ball, do you think there's any role of the players and the association should play with Major League Baseball in investigating the balls the way they are, with the manufacturer, would you like to visit the plant?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: They offered for me to visit the plant at the All-Star break when I talked about it. I told them I would, I haven't heard back, or be involved in the discussion.

I don't know. Major League Baseball and Mr. Manfred are saying they haven't done anything to the baseballs and they don't know what happened. So if that's the answer, then there's no answer to fix it; right?

Maybe it's something that can be worked on behind closed doors, I don't know. I just think in a game that can be so different based on the ball that's in play, we should definitely take some steps in normalizing it or having it be at least the same. Consistency I think is something that makes this game so special. When you look to compare numbers to greats a hundred years ago, it's such a unique sport with the history that we have, and it's been played on the same dimensions for so long, you start changing some of those things and one of the best parts of this game goes away.

Q. There's been a lot of talk with the Rays series and this series, even last playoffs about sign stealing and tipping pitches. From your perspective, has anything been abnormal in the series this year? And furthermore, what's it like to have your team constantly attached to accusations and some that you guys are cheating or breaking the rules?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: I mean, it sucks for our players, because those guys are so talented. And I don't think anything should take away from what they're able to accomplish. And so in that aspect it's disappointing.

But I think we know what's going on there. Look at what we're getting accused of. How many runs did we score in that first game? But I understand where the paranoia comes from. We have it. I have it.

As far as tipping and signs, I'll be using multiple signs here tomorrow night. There's just so many cameras and there's so much video now, it just kind of evolved a few years ago. You've got teams studying what signs you use at second base before you even step on the mound. It used to be kind of a gamesmanship thing, runner gets on second base and if he's able to decipher your signs the time he's on second base, that's okay, good for you. But if you're prestudying them or having some person study them before you even get out there and all of a sudden you take the field and the team already knows what you're using, I think that's a little bit different.

As far as tipping pitches, it's the same thing. There's so much video, there's so much analysis. We use the analysis to study our mechanics. You do overlays of video comparing yourself to when you were good, to when you were bad, and seeing if anything is different. Well, the same can be done to compare if you're tipping pitches; fastball versus slider, fastball versus screwball, whatever.

So it's something with what's out there, you just have to be extremely diligent about it and pay attention and try to do the best you can to not help the team know it's coming.

Q. Kind of following up on that, to what extent are there boundaries to how that information can be communicated when it's picked up during a game? And then also kind of related to that, you guys seem to pop up on these things a lot, but are you guys just good at getting in the heads of other teams?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: Maybe. I think -- one, to answer your first question, I think MLB has done an incredible job this year. There's been someone in the video room every game of the season, somebody is there full-time. You're not allowed to have a live feed anywhere in the stadium that the players have access to; they check all that. I think that's been an incredible step forward for MLB to go against the trend of all this technology that's out there.

That's pretty much it. They did what I think was the best thing possible to resolve whatever issue, paranoia teams have. Obviously it didn't resolve the paranoia, it's still out there for every team. Like I said, I'm not going to be using one sign tomorrow.

Q. You're obviously really cognizant of baseball history and your place in it and your team's. If this team were to see this through and win a second championship in three years, how much sort of greater would the legacy be if you can start winning multiple championships with the Astros here?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: Isn't that for you guys to decide? I don't know.

Q. You're in the middle of it.
JUSTIN VERLANDER: You guys talk about it. I don't know. I mean, there's certain things that come along that when they're happening you realize how meaningful it is. The no-hitter this year was one of those moments, the first championship was one of those moments for me. But you don't tend to think about it, at least I don't. I'm not looking and saying, Well, I'm trying to make my legacy on this game better; I'm just trying to win a championship because that's what I want to do in my heart, I want to win. I want to win for my teammates, I want to win for myself, I want to win for the city.

I guess the answer to your question is you've just got to be like a horse with blinders on. Just focus on what you can, try to be the best you can, and when I'm all said and done and hang it up, I guess those are the moments you look back and appreciate it all.

Q. Along those lines of focusing on what you can control, are you such a person of routine that the rain delay on some level you were happy about because now you get to go on your regular day's rest and not have an extra day?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: Yes and no. I do like -- I'm very much a creature of habit and routine. But one way or the other I really wasn't leaning towards -- I was prepared to go on regular rest. I started -- the day after, because the forecast looked so bad, I started doing my normal routine. It might have actually thrown me off had I not. So I threw my bullpen like I had regular rest and all that.

After going on short rest a couple of starts ago, I was a little sore in between last start and the one before. So I think I responded well, better than I thought when I got on the mound. So that really wasn't a concern rolling around on regular rest or an extra day this time.

I guess to answer your question, it doesn't really affect me. I'm just glad I prepared to go on regular rest.

Q. Pitching in this ballpark instead of back in Houston, do you change your approach or game plan at all knowing it's a different ballpark?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: No, not really. I think -- definitely you change the approach. You're facing a team two times in a row is never easy. It's a difficult task, especially as talented as these guys are. I think you just understand and prepare for the intensity of the atmosphere.

Q. Can you just talk a little bit about the challenge of facing this Yankees lineup in general.
JUSTIN VERLANDER: I mean, they're extremely talented. I think they have a great approach. I think 1 through 9 can hurt you with a homer. If you make mistakes they punish you.

It's just kind of one of those lineups that you have to go out there and understand that it's going to be a grind. You're going to find yourself in moments where you need to make pitches. You just can't let it speed up on you. If anything, you slow it down and just try to execute as best you can.

It's a hard lineup to navigate but like any lineup, there's holes, there's places you can go. You just have to execute at an extremely high quality.

Q. Whenever the Yankees talk about the series, they always talk about having to beat either you or Gerrit here. What does it feel like to be kind of that wall? Do you have a source of pride that you two guys are holding down the fort? I know it's a team thing, but you guys are right in the front of it. How important is that for a team to have you two guys out front like that?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: Yeah, I think it is important for the team to be able to have that confidence in both Cole and I. It feels good. It's a lot of hard work that goes on behind the scenes.

If anything, I mean, there's nothing taken for granted in this game. No matter how good Cole has been in the second half, no matter how well I've pitched in certain situations before, each game is a new opportunity for that not to happen, you know?

So honestly, it's -- no matter how confident you are rolling into a game, every playoff game is like a reset button and you've just got to go out there and see what happens.

I don't know what stuff I'm going to have tomorrow. It's kind of the fear of the unknown. That's the anxiousness of it. Rolling into tomorrow, I'm already starting to get a little anxious and nervous now. Tomorrow morning will be the same, which is why routine helps. But then you start throwing and it kind of calms you a little bit. You're like, Okay, arm feels good. Okay, I'm hitting my spots. Okay, let's check all the boxes, and then let's go find out what we've got.

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