Q. How much of a surprise was it that you got the Game 1 nod? I know Max's health issues with the hamstring were going on for a couple of days, but when did you find out, and obviously how excited are you about it?STEPHEN STRASBURG: I mean, you know,
Q. How much of a surprise was it that you got the Game 1 nod? I know Max's health issues with the hamstring were going on for a couple of days, but when did you find out, and obviously how excited are you about it?
STEPHEN STRASBURG: I mean, you know, I kind of had an idea of what was going to happen a couple days ago. You know, they told me to throw a bullpen on the first workout day.
I'm excited for the opportunity to pitch in the playoffs again. It's one thing you really can't take for granted, and you've got to make the most of every opportunity you get.
Q. What did you do over the course of the season to maybe ensure that you would be healthy throughout besides those couple of weeks? What did you do between starts on the mound, anything differently? Obviously from the stretch.
STEPHEN STRASBURG: Yeah, I think I really just tried to listen to my body. You know, something just wasn't right thereafter the All-Star Break, and we were definitely conservative with it. I think it's something that I could have pitched through, but looking back on it now, I really just made that decision with the training staff because, you know, my ultimate goal was to be there at the end.
And I was able to accomplish that, and obviously my body is feeling much better than it did. That's a positive. So you know, I just look back on that as a learning experience in itself, and to not necessarily go out there and think like small picture, like next start; but big picture.
I think this team has the ability to do a lot of really good things in the playoffs here, and I just want to be a part of it.
Q. What are your thoughts on the Cubs team and the lineup you might be facing tomorrow?
STEPHEN STRASBURG: They've got a lot of guys; you really don't know who's going to be in the lineup just yet.
We faced them this year. I faced them in past years and stuff. I think the biggest thing is focusing on what you can control, and that's execution and trusting the guy next to you. I think that's a huge thing for us, and hopefully the fans are going to be there with us.
Q. You've pitched so well so many different times the last two and a half years, whenever you've been healthy. What has matured or developed in your game to get to where we've seen you at your best this year?
STEPHEN STRASBURG: Well, you know, I think from day one, there was pretty high expectations. You know, I think you just have to do a little bit of soul searching, look yourself in the mirror, and when things don't go well, learn from it. But the biggest thing is keep moving forward and trusting the process.
As a pitcher, I like to take pride in that; the effort I put out there in each start and the amount of pitches that I execute. I think that's something that's really helped me is playing the game within the game and focusing on what you can control out there and making the adjustments when necessary, and you know, when all is said and done, just knowing that you gave it everything you had.
Q. You did pitch an opener in 2014 in the Postseason. What can you take from that start and the adrenaline you felt and what can you take into that game tomorrow?
STEPHEN STRASBURG: I think the biggest difference is really just kind of the media attention, and, you know, all the stuff that goes around this game. But for the most part, once you get out there between the lines, we're playing the same game. It's no different. It's about who can, number one, execute properly in certain situations; take advantage of the other team's mistakes, and just keep moving forward. Keep pushing, keep grinding until the last out's made.
Q. On that same note, going back to 2012, the nucleus of this team; what do you sense about the demeanor going into tomorrow?
STEPHEN STRASBURG: I think for the most part, you know, we've got kind of the same core group. I think guys that have come here along the way: You know, Trea, obviously has been a big step up for us. You know, Tanner, kind of coming into his own, and then the free agent guys that we've been able to get and then the guys that we've been able to acquire through trade. They have all been great clubhouse guys and leaders in their own right.
So I mean, it's just, you kind of thank Riz for bringing in good guys that are going to step right in and compete just with the rest of us.
Q. Some opponents have said that you've been more willing to pitch to contact this year; would you agree with that assessment, and if so, how has that benefitted you?
STEPHEN STRASBURG: I don't really know what pitching to contact means. I can't control if they are swinging or not.
I would say I've maybe minimized mistakes a bit more. Tried to pitch to all four quadrants, use all my pitches in any count. But as far as like pitching to contact, I'm just trying to make pitches. I don't really care if they are swinging or not.
Q. This kind of follows that. It seems like you have really become a pitcher in the sense that you're not just throwing a fastball; you're throwing it to a spot. How do you get the right amount of amp to go into a big game, but not too much?
STEPHEN STRASBURG: Well, I think you've got to recognize that you know it's going to be there. It's focusing on your process, focusing on your routine, being in on each pitch, one pitch at a time.
But you know, I think I'm the same pitcher that I was back then. I think it's just a matter of the process, like I've been talking about. You just kind of fine-tune everything, and as you get older, you get a better feel for your pitchers, but my intentions are still the same.
Q. In terms of pressure, do you feel like there's more on your club than the Cubs? And for you personally, having signed the nice contract and getting this assignment for Game 1, what's the level of pressure like for you personally?
STEPHEN STRASBURG: You know, I think people look at pressure in many different ways, but you know, it's funny, because you know, this isn't pressure. This is a game. You know, there's a lot of people that deal with a lot harsher things in their life that is legitimate pressure.
I'm just so thankful and blessed to be playing this game, to have the family that I have, and to have the teammates that I have. That's really all that matters. We stick together and we give it everything we've got.
Q. You talked after your last start about the response of Matt Wieters and what he's been able to help you with, at least in that particular start. Can you expound on what effect he has had catching for you this season, and maybe in a different way that you look at approaching hitters?
STEPHEN STRASBURG: I mean, you know, he's a true professional. He's not just going out there and just calling a generic game and focusing on his ABs. He really does his homework and he really kind of tries to figure out what your strengths are on any given start and really using those strengths; but at the same time, featuring stuff that might not be working and getting it going as fast as possible.
Q. Going into this, this team's been a part of the Postseason now, this will be the fourth time, not getting past the first round; is this team better equipped than any other ones you've been a part of?
STEPHEN STRASBURG: Again, that's kind of the speculation that you deal with. I do know that we have a lot of guys in here that want this really bad. But at the same time, I think we have a lot of guys in here that, you know, trust each other, trust this team, and trust that we're going to stick together through thick and thin.
I think that's something that you really have to build on over, you know, a few seasons, and you've got to have the right people to come in and join the group. I think that's the one thing that I've noticed over the years is that, you know, this team is a little bit more battle-tested than we have been in the past. Yes, the expectations are a little bit more, but those things are always going to be there when you have that kind of talent in that clubhouse.
So my opinion, I think this is, you know, going to be a great time for us. It's a test; it's a challenge, for sure. But I think we're ready for it.