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Oct. 20 Kyle Hendricks pregame interview

October 20, 2016

Q. No matter what, Game 6 on Saturday is going to be ultra important. It could even be a clincher. What is your level of excitement pitching in a game of that magnitude?KYLE HENDRICKS: It's big, but at the end of the day, you have to take the same mindset

Q. No matter what, Game 6 on Saturday is going to be ultra important. It could even be a clincher. What is your level of excitement pitching in a game of that magnitude?
KYLE HENDRICKS: It's big, but at the end of the day, you have to take the same mindset into it as any game. It was a good, maybe, precursor Game 2 for me. It's going to be the same environment as last year, Kershaw again. I'm looking forward to it. It's a good matchup. I'm excited in a sense to get another crack at it. It's obviously going to be fun. It should be a close game. But, yeah, it's definitely going to be important. But in order to approach that game, you have to have simple thoughts, take the same approach as you would any other game.
Q. Are things magnified as far as matchups against other pitchers in the playoffs, much more so than it would be during a regular season where you're just facing another team? You're not seeing them again in the next series. Is it more one-on-one?
KYLE HENDRICKS: I think so. I think in the playoffs it is a little more between the pitchers than it would be in the regular season. I only say that because regular season you really don't look at it at all. In playoffs, you definitely look at it. I think that's the difference there, especially when you're going up against a guy like Kershaw. You know he's over there, so it makes it fun, though.
Q. Before and after the game last night, any differences with your teammates just the way things are in the clubhouse? It seems like the situation sure turned.
KYLE HENDRICKS: Yeah, I think the only reason it turned was because nothing was different. It starts with Joe at the top. But we had some stretches in the regular season, even when we lost some games right before the All-Star break there. And coming to the ballpark every single day, nothing changed. It was the same this time around, you know. The guys knew they weren't swinging the bats, but those other guys were making good pitches. So it wasn't all on our end. There was nothing we could do. So we kept putting together good at-bats, and it was good to see last night finally to break out. But, again, the only way to do that is by keeping the same approach as you did all year long.
Q. Can you describe what led you to use the four-seam fastball a little more liberally this year? Was there a certain game or certain conversation that really was the turning point for that for you?
KYLE HENDRICKS: Yeah, I think maybe after my first start in Milwaukee, I faced the Giants after that. Me and Mike Borzello, we talked about it a lot. Just different bat paths for different hitters and that kind of thing. My two-seam is very effective. But my four-seam is almost like a different pitch, even though it's another fastball, but it's very effective against the right hitters. So when I look at a scouting report, and I see those four seams, that's where I'm going to use it. Whereas last year I would have still stuck with my two-seam in those spots and I get beat by it. It's in there sporadically, but it's still got to be in the right spots. So if I see the openings in the scouting reports, that's where I'm going to use it.
Q. The last start in this series was your first after what happened in the divisional series. I know you were already healthy for that one. But now that you know you're 100%, does it make a huge difference for this start?
KYLE HENDRICKS: It does a little bit, you know. Just that unknown, kind of, from the start after the Giants, going into my throwing program, in the middle of the week, I had to do a lot in the training room also to try to get back. So, now, after I had that last start against the Dodgers, now I know everything's healthy, I was able to go through my throwing program uninhibited basically. Not having to go in the training room and check in on it all the time. So it's a hundred percent, and it's not in the back of your mind anymore at least. Maybe it will be more free because of that. But it definitely gave me confidence going out there in my last start and not feeling anything at all.
Q. The way things have evolved with bullpen usage in the postseason, starting pitchers aren't really allowed to work out of jams more than maybe the first time through the order. And knowing that a lot of times is a short leash for working out of trouble, does that affect the way you approach your outing?
KYLE HENDRICKS: I don't think so. Me personally, I've kind of had that a lot last year, even some this year. With Joe, that's just how he likes to manage the team. We have so many good arms in the bullpen, that if he sees your stuff getting elevated a little bit, starting to get squared up, he's going to go with the next guy because that's the better option at the time. Now coming into the playoffs, it's the same kind of deal. Going into it for me, you're just trying to make good pitches. If you do get in a jam, just simple thoughts. Not thinking about, oh, am I going to get taken out? Is he coming for me? All you have to do is focus on making a good pitch. And if he comes to get the ball from you, then you pass it off to the next guy.
Q. You referenced fastball being two pitches, the four-seam and the two-seam. Your changeup, you manipulate it to go different ways. It seems like you can control it pretty well. In your mind, how many pitches is the changeup?
KYLE HENDRICKS: The changeup is basically two also, because I'll throw one to righties, it will cut, and one to lefties that fades. In essence they're doing the same thing to both hitters, going away from their barrel, but they're obviously opposite action on them, so I would say they're two different pitches, but they're still both changeups, just two different ones.
Q. Watching Anthony Rizzo the past two years in the playoffs and now his demeanor and the breakout game yesterday, what have you noticed about him as far as consistency, the way he goes about his job, and how important is he personally to your club?
KYLE HENDRICKS: Yeah, he's one of the biggest guys on this team, one of our leaders. Obviously a vocal leader, and just his work ethic, like you said. He'll go through stretches like he did right there. But nothing changes. I think that trickles down to all the young guys like I was talking about before. Kind of how our mindset didn't change going into that game yesterday. But his was number one. And when he started getting a couple hits there, I think it got pretty electric on the bench. We all could feel it. The tempo started picking up. Even Addie, when he started getting those couple hits, we knew those two guys have been struggling a little bit, so to see them get that and start getting hot was huge.
Q. Even though you haven't been teammates with him for very long, David Ross, can you explain the impact he's had on your career and maybe more broadly the influence he has in your clubhouse?
KYLE HENDRICKS: Yeah, me personally, I can't even tell you all the things that he's helped me with. He's such a great baseball mind. But he's definitely our leader also. Day-in and day-out, Joe sets the precedent, but you don't see him all the time. He's not always around. Rossy is there with us. He's one of the guys that's always around in the clubhouse. He's the most vocal leader we have. And leading by example. He's been around, he's won where he's been, he's won a World Series, he's been around a long time and knows how to do it. So just watching a guy like that, picking his brain, talking to him day-in and day-out, I've learned a ton from him and I know what he's done for the team has been monumental.
Q. As soon as Ben dropped down that bunt yesterday, did that sort of ignite something in the dugout even before all the other stuff because of what kind of play it was?
KYLE HENDRICKS: Yeah, just getting a leadoff guy on, I think. Anytime you get a leadoff guy on in the playoffs, it adds a little extra energy. You're hoping to get something going there, and it's where our lineup had been, not putting a lot of hits and runners on, just to get the lead-on guy on was really good. And then the next guy, and the energy started picking up big time in that inning for sure.
Q. Four walks, I think, in the last start. Was it just fastball command? Anything that you're working on the side to make sure the command's better?
KYLE HENDRICKS: Yeah, fastball command. It's just the normal things on my side. Same checkpoints. It's not like anything was out of whack, just got to dial it in basically for this start. It wasn't terrible again. I knew who I was going up against, so with that being said, I knew I couldn't give in. After I gave up the one run, I knew I had to keep it there to give us a chance. And that comes with that. A couple of those were bad walks, but, again, at least you're not leaving something over the middle of the plate for damage. You really have to toe the line in the playoffs. Because one run against a guy like that could be huge. So I was just trying to do all I could to keep it a 1-0 game.
Q. You talked about keeping things simple. I wonder, how do you do that emotionally, kind of given the enormity of what you're about to deal with?
KYLE HENDRICKS: I think you draw on your experiences. Just from last year, I think the first start you get in the playoff game, I think you build that up in your head a lot. So once I got through my first one in St. Louis on the road, that kind of showed me a lot. This is still the same game. You go out there and you're making the same pitches, it's the same lineup, same hitters, there's just more going on the outside. So all the attention, the added pressure coming from the outside, you don't pay attention to it, really. It has nothing to do with the job that you have to do when you go out there, so you just pretty much take it as any other game, you're going out there, and you know the pitches you have to make.