THE MODERATOR: Take questions for Dallas.
Q. How much does your past success against the Yankees, do you think, matter at this point in the playoffs?
DALLAS KEUCHEL: I've been asked that question like 10 times already. I don't know, I mean, we're one of only four teams left, so at this point a lot of guys have had success pitching-wise on either the Indians or the Yankees. But it's not just because it's the Yankees. I think it's just been a culmination of command, location, maybe a little bit more confidence. And just because it's the Yankees you kind of get a little bit more amped and a little more jittery because it is the pinstripes and such a storied organization.
But I think it's just a coincidence that my command and location have been better than what it usually is against them.
Q. You guys have had winning records the last three years, 101 wins this season. But on some level, a national level you guys are kind of still proving yourself to your average baseball fan, not in the city of Houston, even day games in the first round of the series. Does this stage, knowing it will be national games, nationally televised, a lot of night games against a legacy team like the Yankees, does that appeal to you just in a baseball sense to where Carlos Correa, Altuve, you, you can all prove yourself, let people know about you on a national stage, if they didn't already?
DALLAS KEUCHEL: I would say more so for those guys; they like a flash a little bit more than I do.
I didn't expect when we were playing the Division Series that we would be facing the Red Sox, that we would be playing so many day games just because of how storied their tradition is as well. I know the media markets in New York and L.A. are just so much more powerful just because it's the East and West Coast.
But at this point we won 101 games, we don't need to prove anything. Correa has done very well against the Yankees, Altuve is the MVP, so everybody knows his name, and Bregman's going to be the same way. But we're so much more than just that.
I know a lot of guys do like the flash and like the prime time games and that's good for them, whatever gets you up for these types of games, then let it get you up for it.
But when it comes down to it, we'll be playing baseball, but it is a little bit more fun to be playing such a storied, back-to-back storied franchises with the Red Sox and the Yankees.
Q. Not to belabor the Wild Card game, but what did it mean to your career at that time to go into Yankee Stadium and on a huge stage like that in the postseason and pitch a game of that magnitude? Did you feel like maybe it sort of established you a little bit more, maybe really elevated you beyond what you had already done?
DALLAS KEUCHEL: I think it really validated the team, not just a personal standpoint, but I mean, looking back at it kind of validated my season overall and if I were to just be honest with everybody, I think my 2014 season was better than my 2015 season because it was really the first time I had put a whole season together. I didn't really get much validation after the 2014 season and I felt a little disrespected, but that's what happens when you play on a hundred-loss team, it's kind of a miracle if a couple players have a good season.
And at that point I was just trying to get myself better still, and a lot of the guys would say the same thing. So for 2015, for that win in the Wild Card game, it wasn't just special for me and the validation, it was special for everybody to go into New York and play that well.
But now we look back on it and it's probably one of the most magical times that I'll have in my career and it's something I'll never forget, for sure.
Q. When you take the mound in a playoff game here and it's going berserk and the towels and everything, what can you see and hear and how do you try to kind of control that and control the emotions that come with that, when the crowd is so into every pitch that you're making?
DALLAS KEUCHEL: Man, it's a tough question to answer just based on what the adrenaline's like. Your adrenaline in the postseason is unlike any other, and it really varies from start to start. Not to say the pressure is more, because I don't really believe in pressure, it's more of getting yourself ready for moments like this. And when you're a good team the regular season is getting you ready for the postseason.
When you see, or when I see orange-out or white-out and all those towels, I look over at Keuchel's Korner and see a bunch of fake beards, it really gives you a sense of calmness almost in such a chaotic atmosphere. So that alone makes me feel like I'm in my backyard playing wiffle ball.
And right now it's just the thought of it is giving me chills, but to be hosting the Championship Series is going to be truly special. To have four games in a seven-game series is going to be very valuable. I don't feel like we have, right now, that we're going to go in and wipe the Yankees off the map just because we have such a good crowd at home, because they proved that they can win on the road. That's what good teams do. But to have the crowds back, to have the fans back, to have the city behind us, it really gives us that extra boost.
Q. Was there anything instructive to you about the way the Indians pitched to Judge?
DALLAS KEUCHEL: A little bit, not really. He's such a unique player, and I think the Yankees have a lot of unique players to where the new age lift the ball, get under the ball, trajectory, backspin, you name it, they have a bunch of those guys. But in turn you're going to swing and miss a lot more. And that's just not those guys, there's a lot of special players around the league, that's why you can't get, this league, you can't get any greater than this league, this is the top.
For people to say he was exposed or whatnot, I don't believe in that. I think he's a tremendous talent and one swing can change the course of the game. But I don't really feel like there's a one game plan going in. As a pitcher for myself, I like to establish my strengths first, see if I can ride that. And then plan B would also would be a different way. But he can hurt you in so many different ways that it's not just one set game plan.
Q. The Yankees were a lot more left-handed heavy a couple years ago when you faced them, I know you faced them once this year. But how does having the right-handed weapons like Judge, Sanchez, Castro affect how you're able to work against them?
DALLAS KEUCHEL: Well, I'm definitely going to have to be on my game, and they have proven that in the playoffs. I think they were shut out once game 1.
But other than that, you make mistake pitches in the playoffs, they're magnified. And it's like the regular season, but it is magnified. Their lineup is, I think they scored the second-most runs in the league, so that in itself is pretty remarkable. Even their lefties do damage against left-handed pitchers. Didi is a guy I respect and what he did last night was really incredible off of Kluber.
But it doesn't matter if it's righties or lefties, I'm still giving respect to a lot of those guys and I got to make my own pitches. So at the end of the day, it's about me making the necessary pitches, the necessary adjustments to them. But I do, I am cautious about certain situations going into it with Judge up or with Gary up in a they're down one or they're up one situation, whether it's the first inning or the 7th.
Q. A.J. commented on this some, in what ways do you think maybe Verlander has helped make you a better pitcher, even though you have different styles and he's right-handed and you're a left-hander?
DALLAS KEUCHEL: He's more flamboyant. No, he's been great. Obviously opposite styles, the most polar opposite styles you could probably imagine. And we have talked about that. But what makes him great already and in the clubhouse is just his mindset, the way his mind works. And I feel like my mind is unique in the way I feel about pitching and my game plan and strategy, but with his mindset, it's very similar.
So we might have polar pitching tendencies, but the way our minds work are very similar. So I've bounced hundreds of questions off him already and he would probably say the same thing. And it's just been a joy to kind of talk pitching in the dugout, especially for the younger starters. I think Lance has really benefited from him being here too and just the pitching staff overall. He is really that ultra veteran guy who has done everything besides win a World Series. So that was one of the things that appealed to him before he came over here.
I said, Hey, your chances of winning a World Series are much greater coming over here than staying with Detroit. And that was the honest truth, and I think that really resonated with him. But just to have him over here is a sense of relief for everybody, including myself. It's nice to have that guy who has done it to where I can ask questions, whatever it is, life, baseball, and it's truly going to be a joy for the next two years.
Q. What was it like watching the game last night? Was there enjoyment knowing you're first out of the box or were you emotionally into that game watching Cleveland and New York play?
DALLAS KEUCHEL: I mean, it's two great teams and it took Cleveland a 22-game win streak to pass us for best record. But watching those two teams go at it was really fun. That's what baseball's meant to be in the playoffs. It's supposed to be a fun atmosphere. You got one storied franchise going into a team that's coming off a World Series appearance, so it couldn't get any better than that.
I honestly didn't care who won, who lost. I think in the 9th inning when New York went up three runs, I was probably a little bit more calm than I would have assumed, just because I didn't pack a bag last night and if Cleveland won we would have been leaving at 10 a.m., and at that point I would have been panicked to throw a bunch of clothes together. So it was just a fun atmosphere, and by no means was I trying to measure up what I was going to do against either team on Friday. So it was more of me just being a fan of baseball and watching a good game.
Q. What does it mean to you to be the opening starter in the ALCS here?
DALLAS KEUCHEL: It doesn't really mean anything more than just going out there and trying to do my job. I'm trying to kick-start the series in the right direction, and then ultimately hand the ball off to Verlander Game 2. And it's a good feeling to have that extra starter to where if I do my job correctly we're going to be up 1-0 and then potential to be 2-0.
So it would be just like the Division Series, and I think Verlander would say the same thing if he were to go back for the Division Series, start Game 1 and do his job correctly, get a team win at the house and then go up 2-0.
But I'm going to have my hands full, and my job is to just get as many guys out as possible and let the offense do work and let the fans cheer.
Q. Would you talk about Altuve and Judge, specifically on Altuve, as a pitcher, what are the things that you're most impressed about watching him do his thing and the challenge of pitching to Judge.
DALLAS KEUCHEL: Well, Altuve's a mystery of himself because I don't think he really knows what he's doing up there half the time. He just, he's got such good hand-eye coordination. He's got one of the quickest set of hands in baseball. That's a very valuable tool, whether have you long arms, short arms, as long as those hands are quick to the ball, whether it's inside or outside, up or down, you got a good chance of putting good contact on the ball. And with the hard hit rate, with the miles per hour off the bat now, it's such a crazy stat and he's up there with some of the big dogs, and including Judge.
But he's just an incredible talent to where he's so skilled that the luck is the most fun part to talk about, because I say all the time, you have to be skilled in order to be lucky. And he is lucky more times than a regular player, just because he's so skilled. Guys are always saying, Well, why does he get pitched down the middle so much? And when you go look back at the film, yeah, he gets a lots of pitches down the middle, but what separates him is that when he gets those pitches down the middle, he doesn't miss them. Whereas a couple guys might miss a pitch or two in an at-bat, and that's the difference between him and the rest of the league.
Q. And Judge?
DALLAS KEUCHEL: Judge, I mean, he's an MVP candidate for a reason. And he's got such a bright future ahead of him that it's kind of crazy to think about how young he is. His stature is obviously one of the biggest in the game, and it fits kind of the New York mold. But he's going to be -- I've only pitched against him once, but he's going to be a mystery to me as well. And I think as long as I make my pitches, I'm going to fare well, but there's always that mistake pitch that he hits out.
So it will be a good matchup for not only myself but for our pitching staff as well and just it will be a fun series.
THE MODERATOR: Thanks very much, Dallas.