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Jon Lester NLCS Game 5 pregame interview

October 19, 2017

Q. Jon, talking approximate a game that you don't know you're going to pitch or not, is that difficult for you? And considering the situation tonight, are you ready if called on by Joe?JON LESTER: Ready tonight for what? For me to pitch? Oh, I think as scheduled, as far

Q. Jon, talking approximate a game that you don't know you're going to pitch or not, is that difficult for you? And considering the situation tonight, are you ready if called on by Joe?
JON LESTER: Ready tonight for what? For me to pitch? Oh, I think as scheduled, as far as I know. I haven't been told otherwise. We're just planning for Saturday. So I know there's a lot of what-ifs and if we're playing then or not, but you still just do your normal routine. Be prepared. I'll look over -- since we have an off-day tomorrow, I'll look over some stuff tonight and be ready to go.

No, I'm prepared for Saturday. I don't think there's anything scheduled for tonight.

Q. Postseason tends to skew the numbers greatly, and so Javy Baez is whatever he was, 0 for 20 and then hits a couple homers and goes from bad to good. What kind of mindset do you have to have in the playoffs when there can be those kind of swings?

JON LESTER: I think the big thing in the playoffs is just taking it one game at a time. I know that sounds really cliché and simple, but especially for those guys, you have to have a short memory. You're playing a team sometimes seven games in a row. You don't do that in a season.

So they're going to have -- as far as the pitching side of it, they're going to have the upper hand just facing you a lot. So you just have to try to forget the night, whether it was good or bad. Hopefully he had a good night last night, and hopefully he slept a lot better than he had in nights past, and he comes in today feeling a little bit more confident, but still with the task at hand of facing Kershaw.

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I think that's what you just have to do is have a short memory. As a starting pitcher, I think it can be a little bit harder, especially if you don't have a great one, and you may not get to pitch again. So you have to sit on that one all off-season.

So I think as far as hitters, they get those four or sometimes five at-bats a night. So I think it's easier for them to bounce back and try to think about today.

Q. Second time around, what have you learned from this lineup?

JON LESTER: I think the biggest thing is it's a tough lineup to go through a couple times. I feel like they can fool you one time. You can think you have an upper hand on them that first time through and they make the adjustment that second time through. That makes it difficult.

I think the other thing is they don't chase. They don't chase outside the zone. You saw it last night with Wade. He's got really good stuff, you know, as far as that cutter in to lefties, that curveball down and away from righties, and guys weren't swinging at it. Got his pitch count up early, made him work.

So they're definitely a team you have to try to get out within the zone as best you can and as fast as you can, and that's a hard thing to do because they're good hitters. A lot of times you rely more on that cutter or sinker, something that appears to be on the plate and then goes off.

So, I think we'll just make that -- try to make an adjustment next time, maybe be a little bit more in the zone early and make them expand late. So it's just a cat-and-mouse game you've got to kind of figure out as you go.

Q. It seems like each of the last three years your bullpen has kind of become thin at the end of the postseason. Is that kind of the nature of the postseason that you mentioned as starting pitcher, you have a game, you might not pitch again? But it seems like a reliever has a bad outing, and it's just do you still have the confidence, the trust to use him? It seems like the options dwindle as the postseason goes along.

JON LESTER: Yeah, I think bullpen guys get -- like I said it last year, it's such a hard job to do as it is. You don't know when your name's going to be called, and when it's called, you may not even get in the game. You may get up three times and have to sit on that, basically, until the next game.

I think their outings are so magnified that you have a bad outing, and that's all people talk about. You give up a game-tying home run or you walk a guy in or whatever it is, it's all people talk about. They don't talk about the starter. They don't talk about the other team. They don't talk about anything, they talk about you.

So I think that's where I think it gets blown up a little bit. You look at the course of a season and what these guys have done for us, what they've done for us in the playoffs, I think it's just one of those deals you've got to jump back on their back and hope for the best the next time.

Like I said, when C.J. gave that homer up to Bryce, I hope he had that same situation with the same guy up and he succeeds, and he did. I think you just have to kind of ride the wave sometimes.

Q. Jake was in here yesterday, I think, talking about his uncertain future. No matter what happens tonight or in the next couple of weeks, can you speak to what he's meant to this pitching staff and this team in the last couple years as he transformed himself?

JON LESTER: Yeah, I think that goes down the line for our whole staff. That's kind of how I look at it. I don't think one individual is greater than the group. But as far as an organization, he's done some really awesome things here, obviously. Personal things, won the Cy Young, and obviously being part of last year with us, and then obviously this year with the run we've been on.

But he's just been a really good, really good piece of that group. It's been a fun group to be a part of the last three years. Adding Lack last year. We mesh well, we pitch well together, we work well off each other. And I think that's going to be a hard -- whether they -- I don't know the business side of it. I don't know if he'll be here. I don't know if he'll be gone, but if he is gone, it's definitely a hard piece to fill. Not only, obviously, on a personal level, but on a baseball field level as well.

Q. You've always said that you kind of pitch to your strengths and that you look at scouting reports here and there, but you don't necessarily go to that. But in a shorter series against an opponent who you've seen maybe twice in a week, do you kind of change that around a little bit and maybe work to the disadvantages of the hitters when they're chasing?

JON LESTER: Yeah. I mean, I think last time we got a little bit off of our strengths and kind of pitched to them a little bit too much. So, like I said earlier, it's a cat-and-mouse game. You've got to make adjustments. We've got to figure out a better game plan than what we had before. So we walked too many guys, maybe nibbled too much early as opposed to getting back on the plate a little bit more. Obviously, like I said, they're not a team that chases outside of the zone a lot. So maybe use that to our advantage. Maybe be on the plate a little bit more, get them swinging a little bit more, you know, eliminate those walks.

I think that's the big thing with that team over there. You allow free base runners -- really any team, but their lineup is so good, that if you allow free base runners, that's what makes it difficult on you as you get around that second and third time through that lineup.

Q. What is the difference between preparing for a game -- a real big postseason game in 2007 and now, compared to pregame nerves, pregame anticipation? Is it kind of like when you're young, ignorance is bliss and you go out there and you're more nervous now, or how is it?

JON LESTER: Oh, no, I was way more nervous then than I am now. I didn't know what a scouting report was back then. That was the nice part about being a part of that team was having Jason Varitek back there, so I didn't have to worry about the scouting report. I was just trying to throw strikes and not screw anything up.

So I think now it's obviously a little bit different. The craft is honed a little bit more, and I have an idea of what I'm doing. I have different weapons. Before I was just lifting my leg and throwing it and hoping it went in the general direction that I was hoping for it to go.

But nerves are still there, it's just more of a calm nervousness, you know. It's more of that anxiety, getting out there and kind of getting the game underway. I think that's where it kind of -- that first pitch, everything kind of hits you, and then maybe for a batter or two, you're really kind of amped up and settle back in after that.

But, yeah, back then was a crazy, crazy experience and something I always remember. It was a cool feeling to have, but also not a very good feeling.

Q. Question about Justin Turner. Do you ever get to the point in a series as a staff where you just pick out one guy and say at this point just not going to let him beat us? We've got to go on to the next guy. I know you had a moment there where you had a base open and he hit a pitcher's pitch, I think, an outside one. But do you get to a point where you just can't have that guy beat you?

JON LESTER: Well, I think the situation dictates that. I think in that situation I ended up making my pitch and he hit a ground ball through the hole. He didn't beat us. That didn't beat us. Last night with Wade, 3-1, no outs, nobody on, that didn't beat us.

So I think there's a guy on second base or maybe third base with less than two outs, you get a base open, yeah, maybe you make some better pitches, more careful pitches. But, yeah, I mean, there's times. There's times, and I think the situation dictates that. I think also the guy on the mound dictates that. If you have a guy that knows kind of how to manipulate the strike zone maybe, like a guy like Wade where he's able to use his cutter and it's a strike and a ball. So I think it all depends on the situation in the game.

Obviously, for us, we have to err on the side of caution a little bit more so than they do right now. We can't give up free runs. So, I think, yeah, you have to -- you don't ever want to just give in, but at the same time, you have to pick your spots to be a little bit smarter.