"You can sit here and say he's probably going to go pretty deep and he's probably going to go pretty low," Cole said. "So you're probably going to have to go pretty deep and you're probably going to have to go pretty low, too."
Even though he is at the end of only his second full MLB season, facing the other team's ace in an elimination game will not be new territory for Cole. In Game 5 of the 2013 NL Division Series, he took on the Cardinals' Adam Wainwright. The Bucs lost that game, 6-1, but it was a 2-1 duel at the time Cole left after five innings.
"You get into a situation where your back's up against the wall," Cole said, drawing on that experience, "and you don't have any option but to go out swinging, so you might as well go for it. Treat it like any other game, and hopefully you've put yourself in a position to prepare for this opportunity, and I think I have."
According to his manager, the preparation had nothing to do with the opposition -- even though Cole will be an underdog at home for one of the rare times of his entire career.
"I think he's kind of way past that type of deal on who is getting street cred or who is getting media coverage or who is getting all that," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "I think he's just looking forward to getting the ball."