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World Series Media Day: Keuchel interview

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Q. Just overall, Dallas, what are your thoughts on getting the baseball, the World Series against the Dodgers, a team you faced a couple of times? Are there any nerves, anxiousness? how would you describe it?

DALLAS KEUCHEL: Yeah, I think there's some positive nerves in there just because we're playing for a city that's had a lot go on this year, and that's the main reason why. When you get to this point there's only two teams left, and you're the best team in the American League, it's a good feeling. A lot of smiles today. A lot of care-free attitudes, and hoping to go into Game 1 and steal one or two and play some good ball, here.

Q. Just overall, Dallas, what are your thoughts on getting the baseball, the World Series against the Dodgers, a team you faced a couple of times? Are there any nerves, anxiousness? how would you describe it?

DALLAS KEUCHEL: Yeah, I think there's some positive nerves in there just because we're playing for a city that's had a lot go on this year, and that's the main reason why. When you get to this point there's only two teams left, and you're the best team in the American League, it's a good feeling. A lot of smiles today. A lot of care-free attitudes, and hoping to go into Game 1 and steal one or two and play some good ball, here.

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Q. Who in particular on the Dodger lineup really gets your attention?

DALLAS KEUCHEL: Well, obviously everybody at this point. They've been playing some really good ball. I know towards the end they weren't playing as well, but when you win 40-something games out of 50, that's unheard of for starters. But it just seems that production, top to bottom, and even some of their extra guys have been there all year. You don't win a hundred-plus games for just luck of the draw. They'll be the deepest team that we've played, hands down. And my job is to go out there and get the job done. But there is a couple of guys, obviously Turner is killing it right now, and Puig always presents a challenge. He likes to swing the bat. And if you don't make quality pitches he'll make you pay. But you could talk about Chris Taylor, you could talk about Kiké Hernandez, who used to be with us. Logan Forsythe, who I went to college with. Top to bottom, you could talk about everybody.

Q. What was your relationship like with Forsythe playing at Arkansas? And what kind of relationship did you and do you still have?

DALLAS KEUCHEL: Well, we had a working relationship at Arkansas. And coming in he had already established himself as one of the best third basemen in college baseball. And so immediately I was just trying to fit in and get respected by those guys. And with him only being a year older than me, whenever you're the top third baseman in all of college baseball, I'm going to respect you, but I'm trying to make a name for myself, as well, and get respected by him. But I just saw him, we're doing the whole Fox portraits and everything, I saw him, he was coming in after me. And he's a guy that just brings a smile to my face because I know how hard he works. I know how hard he's worked to get here and be the player he is. And just had a kid not too long ago. Got married. And that also means that we're getting older. But he's a great guy.

Video: WS2017 Gm1: Keuchel on his preparations for Game

Q. You played with Jose Altuve all the way coming up. What do you remember, your first impressions of back in the New York-Penn League, and when did you know that he was going to be a superstar like he is?

DALLAS KEUCHEL: Well, I knew he had a chance to be a really good ballplayer. He has the greatest hand-eye coordination that I've ever seen. And I got to see J.D. Martinez, as well. Those two guys were by far the best two Minor League stand-out players that I've ever seen. So quite a difference in size and weight and how they go about their business, but with Jose I got to see him play the end of -- it was Tri-City, when I signed -- I signed a little bit later coming out of college, and he had gotten moved up from Greenville, and he hadn't really hit puberty yet. And so he sounded different. He sounded like he shouldn't even have been playing baseball. And I remember him in the back of the bus and I was towards the front, and I'm like who is this guy who won't stop talking in the back? And everybody was just being loud. But that's Jose. I didn't understand anything he was saying, because I don't understand Spanish that much. But from where he came from to where I've seen him, I've seen him at every level, and I've seen him succeed at every level. So when he got called up, I knew there was no doubt that he was going to be a star at some point. I didn't know that he was going to actually be this good. I thought he was going to be an All-Star, but to win the MVP, which he should, and honestly he should have been in the race the last three or four years, and I couldn't be happier for the guy, because he is an all-American dude.

Q. What's it going to be like pitching in this heat tomorrow? Is it hot enough that you might think about shaving (laughter)?

DALLAS KEUCHEL: Well, if it's hot enough for four wins, I'll shave it, for sure. This weather is always beautiful. It's that dry heat. So it's going to be hot. It's going to be hotter than normal, but at the same time I like to sweat, I like to get that perspiration, and make sure I have a firm grip on the ball. And, I mean, it's the World Series, so if it's a little bit hotter than usual, that's fine with me. There's no place I'd rather be.

Q. This franchise is just four years removed from that 111-loss season. You were on the team in 2013. Does getting to the World Series, the accomplishment of getting here more meaningful? Does that accomplishment deepen when you consider you've endured some of the franchise's lowest points?

DALLAS KEUCHEL: I think it makes it more special for the guys who have been here, for sure. And there's not a day that goes by that that I don't take it for granted because this game is hard enough as it is. But when you're pretty much at an open tryout at the end of 2012, when we traded away a bunch of the veteran guys that we still had left, into 2013, a lot of the guys didn't take advantage or weren't really serious about it. It was like they were handed stuff and they thought they were going to be the next greatest player. And for myself I started out well my first four or five starts, but really faltered, and I knew if I was going to make a name for myself or stick in the Big Leagues, that I needed to make some adjustments. And Marwin, Jose, and myself are the only ones left from 2012, 2013. And they appreciate every day just as much as I do. To answer your question, a hundred percent. And it's one of the most special things when at nighttime I'm thinking about, we're going to the World Series, and just a few short four years ago we were going home the last day of the season. And it was like, thank goodness, the season is over with.

Q. I wanted to ask you this, that wonderful cover, which I guess you have somewhere in your belongings, the Sports Illustrated cover from 2014, which labeled you the 2017 World Series champions. Talk about the irony of all of that right now, you have a chance to do that.

DALLAS KEUCHEL: Yeah, honestly, I think we were all a little jealous of Springer getting the cover. But he was the poster child. He was the guy coming out of UConn that was five-tool. We see it now every day. It was kind of farfetched. And I talked to a couple of the SI guys who wrote the article and for them to write it, it's kind of unbelievable. Our front office was the first to kind of start this whole analytic thing and putting it together with talent and everything of that sort. But for that to be an article on the front of Sports Illustrated is really unbelievable. It's almost come full circle. We've still got four wins yet, but that cover, if we do win, it's going to make somebody really, really famous.

Q. Is it weird to have a prediction from three years ago coming really close at this point?

DALLAS KEUCHEL: Yeah, I wouldn't have predicted that, and I was seeing some quality players. But kudos to SI.

Q. How big for you to be with Justin, who has two times experience at the World Series?

DALLAS KEUCHEL: Well, anytime you're with a lot of talent, a guy like Verlander, it just makes you want to raise your game up that much more, as well. For the load that he's carried throughout this whole playoff scene is truly unbelievable. Anything I can do to match what he's doing or try to take that baton from what he's doing, is going to be the key. And he's a unique talent. He raises everybody's game, not just mine. You heard Altuve talk about him. He said he literally loved Justin Verlander. If Jose says that about you, he really means it.

Q. During Game 7 what was your availability? How many pitches could you have thrown? And what circumstance you were told you would with come in?

DALLAS KEUCHEL: I told Skip that I could throw whatever he needed, but with Lance or Chuck started the game, he was looking like frickin' Cy Young up there, and deservedly so. He had done so well during the season, there was no better guy to take Game 7. Verlander pitched Game 6. He'd be the only guy, other than that. But Lance came in and he got some quick outs, it was like I saw myself not even pitching in that game. I was nervous in the bullpen just because it was Game 7 and didn't really know what to expect. But I was told it was going to be maybe the 5th, 6th or 7th and if Gardner came up, that was my guy, maybe 9, 1, 2 and if I got to Didi, that would be the end of it. And I was mentally prepared that way. But when we came out of the gate blowing shed and throwing curveballs for days, I knew I wasn't going to get in that game.

Q. What sticks out about the Dodger lineup to you?

DALLAS KEUCHEL: They're extremely deep. And I think we have the power advantage, but at the same time when you look at our lineup, it's top to bottom. So like I said earlier, it's really top to bottom. And we're going in the National League, so I'm not facing a DH, per se. But it is the World Series and one pitch can prove costly. I'm not going to take anybody for granted. I respect everybody in this game, anyway. But when you get to this stage one or two pitches might cost you or win you the game. So for me to take off a few pitches is not -- it's not going to be acceptable on my part. Each and every pitch, top to bottom, one through nine, I'm going to focus in on.

Q. When you have Carlos Beltran on the team, everything he's accomplished, but does not have a World Series ring, can that be extra motivation for you guys, to get him a ring?

DALLAS KEUCHEL: Yeah, absolutely. He's a future Hall of Famer for a reason. He has one of the most storied postseason careers, especially for what he did with Houston the first go-around. I faced him multiple times on teams, and he's just that guy that makes you want to be your best, because if you make a mistake pitch he's going to make you pay for it. For him to go this long without a World Series ring and a World Series appearance, I think his last appearance was with Houston, if I'm not mistaken.

Q. St. Louis.

DALLAS KEUCHEL: St. Louis, so I was mistaken. It's unbelievable because a guy that talented, and for his career to expand that long, you would think that he'd have at least one. He's had a good shot, but when he signed and he came over in Spring Training, that was one of the first things I thought about was guys who haven't gotten postseason experience. And he's had a lot of postseason experience. But McCann hasn't gone past the Division Series, as well. And that makes you, as a teammate, makes you want to elevate your game, as well.

Q. The best team doesn't always make it to the World Series but in this case it's being promoted as a matchup between clearly the two best teams in baseball. Is that a fair assessment?

DALLAS KEUCHEL: I think so. From the first week of April to the end of September I felt top to bottom we were the best team. I give tremendous credit to Cleveland for winning 22 or 23 straight. But it took 22 or 23-game winning streak to even catch us in the standings. When you take a step back and look at that, that means we were playing really well. Every team goes through a lull. I mentioned earlier that the Dodgers didn't play particularly well I think it was at the end of August, but we didn't play well in August, as well. And it shows how far up we were and how good we were for such a long time. Four starters go down in late May, early June and we didn't skip a beat. Personally I thought we were the best team from start to finish, and I thought the Dodgers were the best team in the National League start to finish. So this is going to be a great matchup. And it's not overblown because we've both won a hundred games. It really is, top to bottom, pitching staffs, bullpens, pinch-runners, you name it, coaching staffs, it really is top to bottom the two best teams.