Cole wants 'nothing left in the tank' after WS

An excellent Harris is Hinch's 'panic button' reliever

October 27th, 2019

WASHINGTON -- Free agent-to-be could be making his final start for the Astros in Sunday night's Game 5 of the World Series in D.C., but it might not necessarily be his final appearance for Houston. Cole could potentially pitch in relief in a possible Game 7 on Wednesday night back at Minute Maid Park, though he’s certainly not thinking that far ahead.

“I'm not thinking about anything past the next few days,” Cole said Saturday.

Cole, who has thrown 242 innings this season (regular and postseason), suffered his first loss in five months when he gave up five runs in seven innings in Tuesday’s Game 1. Cole is adept at “emptying the tank” during his starts, dialing it up to 100 mph in the final inning of his outings. Considering this is his final start of the season, Cole doesn’t want to leave anything on the table.

“I hope I go home with nothing left in the tank,” he said. “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.”

When the Astros beat the Dodgers in seven games in the 2017 World Series, they had starter Charlie Morton pitch the final four innings to close it out. Dallas Keuchel and Justin Verlander were warming up in the bullpen, so it wouldn’t be surprising if Cole is ready for a possible Game 7 appearance.

“You just never know,” he said. “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, especially when you're on this stage. This is a blast.”

Harris fills role as ‘panic button’

An exceptional regular season has turned into an even better postseason for Astros reliever , who hasn’t been scored upon in his first 10 playoff outings (9 innings). That included a terrific outing in Game 3 of the World Series on Friday night in which he retired all five batters he faced, and a clutch performance in the Astros' 8-1, Game 4 win in which he allowed an inherited baserunner to score but otherwise got out of a tough situation by striking out Howie Kendrick swinging.

Harris, an All-Star in 2016, has come a long way since he was left off last year’s American League Division Series roster and is now Houston's most dependable reliever. Astros manager AJ Hinch has other analogies.

“He’s been my panic button,” he said. “I call it my security blanket. We have this joke that I’m always going to put him in the middle of the mess. But it’s because of all of those things that I’ve mentioned that make me a believer.”

Harris has given up just five hits in 31 at-bats and he is one of 22 pitchers in Major League history to go scoreless in their first five World Series appearances, dating to 2017, and extended that streak to six games on Saturday night.

“He’s been with me a really long time, and he probably knows my managing style and how I run a bullpen as perfectly as anybody,” Hinch said. “He’s like a second bullpen coach for me. He could probably tell everybody, ‘Here’s what he’s going to do, and if you don’t believe me, watch this.’”

Even though Harris made the All-Star team in 2016, he’s generally flown under the radar. Hinch was thrilled to see him pulled into the postgame press conference following Game 3 to do an interview and get some attention, which he doesn’t normally seek.

“I love that for him, and he’s good at it,” Hinch said. “But he’s remained the same. The evolution has been his confidence has grown, his conviction has grown, his calmness in the big moments has grown. But nothing else has really changed. Continuous good person. Great teammate. Will take the ball. It’s like nothing has really evolved on that side of the ledger. He has been exceptional across the board. I’ve appreciated that.”