Oct. 3 Gerrit Cole pregame interview
Q. For a guy who has just been in the Majors a couple of months now, what will you think the experience will be like taking the mound tomorrow, just the whole atmosphere and everything else around it?
GERRIT COLE: It's going to be unbelievable. You're in enemy territory. The place is going to be loud. It's going to be rocking.
I have no real experience to pull from, so just going to try to keep it as simple as I can and just control what I can control.
Q. You pitched well since you came up from Triple‑A, but the last eight or nine starts you really stepped it up to another level. What do you think kind of caused that?
GERRIT COLE: Getting more comfortable. When you're more comfortable out there, you start seeing different things, relaxing more, being able to trust your pitches more and not try to overdo things as much.
The game plan has become ‑‑ it's evolved as we've gotten further along, and that's because of executing pitches early allows to you do some different things.
So just a combination of that and being able to stay within myself out there lately has been probably the biggest turnaround.
Q. Gerrit, the curveball you started experimenting with last year, was that something you decided to tinker with? Is that something the organization wanted you to start to throw? Is that something somebody came to you with? Could you discuss that?
GERRIT COLE: Probably a little bit of both. A lot of feedback that I've gotten was that everything was hard. You know, as Frankie goes to show you, you can throw everything within an eight‑mile‑an‑hour difference and still be all right.
But it was something that wasn't like an emergency adjustment, it was just something that hopefully was going to come as we kept going along. Just kept trying things out. It's still a really new pitch for me, but I've been able to throw it with more confidence and kind of just let it do what it may and kind of just implement it when I need to.
I've had more opportunities to do that because of how I've been executing the other pitches, especially fastball command. So it wasn't like ‑‑ it's not like a drastic change. It's just something that's kind of evolved into what it is now and just kind of run with it.
Q. Do you find that you pitch better when you're pitching angry, or do you want to keep yourself on an emotional even keel? If you do want to get angry, what do you do to psych yourself up?
GERRIT COLE: I don't know. I'm always angry out there. I've had ‑‑ I think everybody could say they've had success getting really mad, and they've been kicked in the face sometimes when they've gotten really mad and tried to do too much.
I think there's a quiet aggression that you need to have, that presence that you have on the mound, the poise, you know. You don't want to let the other team feed off your outward physical demeanor.
But at the same time, you can't go out and play this game and not expect to just be angry and be competitive and be excited and have that fire in your belly. But at the same time that can work against you. So it's something that hangs in the balance. There is a sweet spot you have to get to.
Q. You're one of the few guys that hasn't been involved in the regular season series here. Who has the advantage in their first‑time exposure, the pitcher or the hitters?
GERRIT COLE: I have no idea. I know that ‑‑ facing Carpenter, Beltran, Molina, Holliday, Freese, Jay, I'm not quite sure. They're just great hitters. So whether you've seen them a bunch of times or not, you know what they're capable of doing. You know in a playoff atmosphere anything can happen.
So I don't think that it's an advantage that I've seen them, and I don't think they view it as one either. It's playoff baseball. Anything goes.
Q. You started warming up during the celebration after the game to get here. Do you ever stop and sit back and take a breath and just enjoy this, or is it too businesslike right now? Are you too focused to step back and say, wow, this is cool?
GERRIT COLE: You know, what I've found is that for me personally I need to be able to control what I can control and I need to be able to take care of my routine and be able to feel comfortable out there. Allowing yourself to take a step back and enjoy what's happening and kind of take in the whole atmosphere and the distractions that come with it, being where I am now, and this is a whole new experience for me, I just want to keep my head down and stay the course.
I don't have quite the feel that guys who have played this game for 10 or 15 years do. I'm just trying to prepare myself the best I can and give my team a chance to win. I'll just do that at any cost. It really doesn't faze me.
Maybe after the year is over, I think that will be the appropriate time to take a step back and look at what we've accomplished. But for right now, especially for me, it's important to stay focused and important to keep my mind right and my head down and prepare for this next start.
Q. In the past few years, would you watch the postseason as a fan on television? Have you seen it? Have you watched?
GERRIT COLE: Absolutely.
Q. So does the fact that you're facing a team that's been on that stage that you've seen on television, does that kind of add to the fascination and the challenge of pitching this game?
GERRIT COLE: I mean, it's a big game. I don't think you can take the hype or the energy or the adrenaline that you're going to get out of it. It's going to be tough for both sides.
But it's a similar situation as to I think when I came up. They've been doing it for a long time. It's not like I never watched a regular season Major League game. It's all been new for me, and that's why I'm trying not to ‑‑ trying not to take really a break and just try to stay focused and keep things as simple as I can because I know that will give me the best chance to help this team and hopefully get us a win.
Q. Who were you facing in the biggest big game you pitched in college?
GERRIT COLE: We faced ‑‑ I mean, we had a lot of big games. I mean, there is one game that jumps out to me, was the College World Series with TCU. That was their first trip and they had kind of rolled through Texas and picked up some momentum nationally. When we got to Omaha, the whole stadium was purple. Omaha is famous for adopting their underdog teams. They rolled through the first game, I think, against Florida ‑‑ Florida State, rather. They came in to us and it was a pretty electric atmosphere.
I have to say, nothing even close to what it was in the Wild Card game. I think we can all say that was pretty much a madhouse.
But that's probably the closest thing I can tell you. That was a big game. They came in with a lot of momentum. We had no choice, rather, than to shut them down, and we had to do that.
Q. Considering two years ago the Pirates were in such a state that they had the number one pick because of the bad record, would you have ever imagined when you signed two years ago that you'd be in this position this soon?
GERRIT COLE: I don't think so. There's a lot of different paths to the Big Leagues, a lot of different rookies in different situations now. But I feel extremely fortunate to be where I am, extremely fortunate to be with the Pirates and to be part of something that hasn't happened in 20 years.
I don't really have a great understanding for what it means to some of the fans back in Pittsburgh because I've never experienced anything like that. I know it brings a smile to their face, and I know they're extremely happy and 100 percent behind us.
That makes this game and playing this game really gratifying, and it makes the hard work that you put in throughout the season and the grind that you have to go through, it makes it worthwhile.
When you get in an atmosphere, for me to be able to come up and to have success, it's good. It's great. But it's not about me. The great part about it was that I was able to have some success and it means something to this team and it helped this team out. I'm just a really small piece of the puzzle in that room with those 40 guys.
But I'm really glad to be able to have helped them out and given them a chance to win every time I stepped on the mound.
Q. So was it your call the other night to leave the celebration and throw the bullpen? And by doing so, how did that kind of mirror or keep you on a regular routine? What would that have compared to regular season for you?
GERRIT COLE: Five‑day routine is usually a day off, bullpen, day off, day off, start. So two days off before the start, bullpen on the second day from the previous start.
So that kept me on the same routine, and I think that was important for me to feel comfortable going into this. I think it's been ten days now since the last time I pitched, since I got scratched from the last start.
So I just ‑‑ with the Wild Card, with the emotions in that game, with the emotions of clinching in Chicago, with this huge series coming up against the Cardinals, the Reds, with all that's gone on in the last couple of weeks, it's really important for me to stay on the same routine and try to mirror it as much as I can so that I'm able to treat it like kind of like any other game, even though I think we all know it's not.
Q. You pitched well in that World Series game, in the College World Series game you mentioned. You pitched really well in your debut, in an electric environment. What is the key for you to stay in the moment when you're in a really big moment?
GERRIT COLE: Kind of what I've been saying this whole time. Just trying to block out everything that could pose a distraction or take my focus somewhere else.
I don't have a ‑‑ that's partially because I don't have a tremendous feel for this environment, much like other guys do. So I'm challenged to keep my head down and just control what I can control. And that's just staying simple, nailing delivery, keeping the fastball down, and hopefully moving it in and out. That's really the game plan. And it sounds simple, it sounds easy, but we all know it's not going to be.
Q. Any family, maybe a former coach coming into town to see the game?
GERRIT COLE: Yeah, my parents and my sister will be here, and my girlfriend will be here too.