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October 26, 2019

Gerrit Cole

Washington, D.C. - pregame 4

Q. I guess you've heard other pitchers, maybe you've been asked this before, you're pitching against them for a second after a few days, is that any kind of big deal adjusting to them and them adjusting to you?
GERRIT COLE: No, there are always challenges that are involved in that. This being the largest stage that we can get on, certainly with the opponent being so well prepared, anticipate having to respond to some things tomorrow and hopefully we respond well.

Q. A similar version of that question, what impressed you most about their lineup top to bottom in facing them?
GERRIT COLE: I mean, they won some two-strike counts. They battled. I mean, I feel like I've said this a few times since we've been to the postseason, our opponents have not taken a pitch off.

But I feel like the intensity grows as we get deeper into October, just the intent and the uncertainty -- the intent and certainty on the approaches and on the focus on the pitches just continues to just raise across the board. And so you have to deal with that. You have to respond to that.

Q. We've seen it in your starts like when you know it's your last inning where you sort of empty your tank a little bit when you know you're not going to come back out. Is there an element to that where last start of the season, you know it's the last time you take the ball, you do some of that, that maybe you wouldn't do normally?
GERRIT COLE: Yeah, I mean, I just -- I hope I go home with nothing left in the tank. So whether it's tomorrow is the last time I pitch or I get the opportunity to pitch another time after that, I just hope I'm just absolutely dog tired by the time I get home.

Q. You have talked in the past about your good relationship with Martin Maldonado, your good work relationship. Can you talk a little bit about how that level of confidence was built?
GERRIT COLE: I mean, I just think Maldy, specifically the weapons that he has behind the dish in terms of just how athletic he is blocking the ball and how he can throw runners out. I really think he can complement anybody's game, but specifically he can complement my game.

I think just our catching core in general, we just have such a high level of communication, Robinson and Maldy do just a fantastic job. Maldy has had a little bit more experience with me dating back to 2018, which never hurts.

He's just a pleasure to play with. He performs at a high level. He prepares at a high level. He's a true professional. He's one of the elite catchers in the game, especially defensively. And he's just a really good human. So I just enjoy being around him.

Q. Both in Game 1 and against the Yankees in the CS, you kind of had some ill-timed walks. When you look back at those two starts, have you found any parallels about why your command has slipped a little bit in certain situations?
GERRIT COLE: Yeah, on the specific walk the last game I just kind of went to the stuff a little bit. I went to a pitch I just really didn't have good command of on the day one too many times. And then counted on Kurt being a little aggressive, 3-2, and wasn't able to just put pressure on me. I wanted to put pressure at the top of the zone, and I missed above the zone.

The in regards to the Yankee start, there were some scenarios where I just wasn't quite certain with challenging over the plate. And if you're not giving a quality delivery on the way there, you can always hit the "eject" button and move on to the next guy. And I did that a few times, I just didn't want to flirt with fire. We were in the Bronx and we had a lead but it's quick to get that team back in. And I just felt like, hey, maybe live to die another day a couple of times because we still were able to bring some good pitches out when we needed to.

Q. After your first start against the Nats, Juan Soto said he knew he should just sit on fastball after experiencing batting against you in Spring Training. Do you remember him batting against you in Spring Training and do you buy that?
GERRIT COLE: Well, I remember him hitting against me in Spring Training. And I would expect him to be looking for a fastball after the first at-bat.

Q. Your teammates with a couple of guys won Cy Youngs, and now you're going opposite who has won a few tomorrow. Now that we're into the series I wonder what your views are of the pitching talent in the series, and what it says that the pitching got this far in a season where we saw so many home runs?
GERRIT COLE: Yeah, I think it's been tremendous. I've had a fun time watching the series unfold so far. I thought -- it's never fun when you're on the losing side of it. The tenacity shown in the first game is something to be admired for sure. Strasburg, as well, in the last inning there on the ropes, needed to make some big pitches. Saw some emotion out of him. Watching him for a long time, on a personal level that was pretty cool to see. It was pretty disappointing for our team. But on a pitcher-to-pitcher level that was impressive.

And then I just think it's ironic that AnĂ­bal, Scherzer and JV are in the same World Series as they were when they were on the Tigers. So it's kind of like the old dogs showing back up in the bright lights. AnĂ­bal is always creative, always forward thinking, front door cutters, back door super changeups, curveball, spitball, I don't know what he throws, but he throws everything.

Always fascinating to watch something like that. And then opposing Zack who has a little bit more of a traditional arsenal compared to AnĂ­bal but equally as creative. I've taken a lot of pleasure in watching the guys work this series for sure.

Q. (No microphone.)
GERRIT COLE: I guess it makes me appreciate it just more because I don't get to see it very often.

Q. Your answer to the empty the tank question suggested that you thought about maybe pitching Game 7 in relief. Do you have a memory or some vision of other starter that did that that you could see yourself playing that role in the script?
GERRIT COLE: Nothing really comes to mind. I guess what -- the reason why I said that was because of the experience that this club had in the previous World Series and how JV mentioned that he had to be ready for a Game 7 and so did Dallas. And ultimately -- and I think they both got hot in that game. And ultimately Charlie proved to be the one that we rode to the finish line.

So you just never know. You're always just so inspired to get in the game and try to contribute any way you can. You just want to be prepared for a situation like that. I would just rather anticipate having my card called as opposed to not, so especially when you're on this stage. This is a blast.

Q. The Nationals don't strike out a ton relative to the rest of the League. I wonder, does that stand out to you when you study them and does it have an impact on how you approach this lineup compared to others?
GERRIT COLE: Well, I wouldn't expect the worst strikeout team to be in the World Series, you know what I'm saying? So I expect them to be good and they are really good.

They're also a National League club. Playing in the National League for a while, like it is a little bit different style of hitting, especially navigating the bottom half of the order, trying to work around the pitcher.

So I think both of those things kind of lead you to the point where it's like you may not be facing a team that has a propensity to strikeout 13 or 14 times a game.

But as far as your game plan, like my game plan isn't to go in and strike out 13 to 14 guys a game. My game plan is just to try to execute the pitches. And if I execute them at a high level and I pick the right ones at the right times, my stuff allows me to get swing and miss. If you're a team that doesn't do that then maybe you just swing and miss less.

It doesn't really affect my approach about how I need to go about executing my pitches or how I need to go about picking what sequences I go with. Once the ball is out of my hand it's kind of out of my control whether they strike out or not. But I'm looking to get as many outs as I can. And I'm looking to put the ball in position to give me the best opportunity to get it out.

Q. Any thoughts that this could be your last start as a member of the Astros? And what's it like to be on a team that's made the World Series two or three times?

It's been a blast since I've been here. I wasn't on the team in '17 and I'm not thinking about anything past the next few days.

Q. I asked Max this earlier, because tomorrow it will be NL rules and you'll have to bat at least once. Is that something that you enjoy facing off against a fellow starting pitcher when you're pitching to him or he's pitching to you? And the second part of the question is do you feel at any kind of disadvantage because you didn't have a lot of reps as an AL pitcher?
GERRIT COLE: I think the second part of your question is pretty understood. Just in general, when American League teams come into National League parks, there's an inherent disadvantage unless you trade for Zack Greinke, and then maybe you have a little bit of an edge there.

In regards to hitting against Max Scherzer, I think I fall in line with pretty much everyone else that it's probably not the most enjoyable experience of all time (laughter).

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