Chicago Cubs: Get ready for a full season from Jose Quintana

CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 19: Jose Quintana
CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 19: Jose Quintana /

He seemed to befuddle some fans, but Jose Quintana is a rather underrated arm, boosting the Chicago Cubs in 2018 and beyond.

Starting pitcher Jose Quintana is an arm Chicago Cubs fans should be excited about. Acquired for prospects, most notably among them, Eloy Jimenez, last July from the White Sox, Quintana now enters his first full season on the North Side of Chicago.

While most fans sound relatively pumped about the young hurler’s upside, we’ll review his exceptional history. And, in the process, attempt to convince those that still attach him to the prospects surrendered.


A southpaw signed through 2020, Quintana will be just 29 years old on Opening Day. That extends to the trio of Kyle Hendricks and Tyler Chatwood. All three are locked up through 2020, and Chatwood and Hendricks are also just 28 years old. Veteran stalwart Jon Lester is signed through 2021.

Chicago Cubs
Chicago Cubs /

Chicago Cubs

That provides four starters under contract through the rest of this championship window, with surely one more starter on the way this offseason.

When the Cubs acquired Quintana, they were 5 1/2  games back of the Brewers, even while computer projections favored Chicago. Even with the reality of playoff prospects somewhat murky at the time, the value of what Quintana brought served to purpose them going forward. Such as in 2018, 2019-and on.

The Cubs will turn their attention to pitching in the upcoming drafts, all the while looking to stay championship relevant in the meantime with guys like Quintana.

Quick side note: How would you feel about the rotation right now consisting of just Hendricks, Lester, and Chatwood a mere six weeks from the reporting of pitchers and catchers?

Favorable comps

You might have heard about how Quintana and Lester have virtually been the same pitcher. Recent three-year trends paint quite the picture.

Both have been a workhorse, each making 32 starts, and logging more than 200 innings in two of the last three seasons. Both were in the 180s for 2017. Each came in among leaders for WAR – Quintana sixth (13.3) and Lester tied for 13th (12.0). Quintana’s strikeout-percentage is 22.7, Lester’s is 24.5. Quintana’s base-on-balls percentage is 6.2, Lester’s is 6.7. Strikeout-to-walk percentage is 16.5, and 17.8 for the latter.

So as you can see, the similarities are obviously strikingly similar.

Many fans might prefer to see the Cubs re-sign Jake Arrieta. Did you know over the last three years, Arrieta ranks fifth among all pitchers in WAR (13.5), and Quintana ranks just behind him (13.3)?

Over that span, Quintana is a .500 pitcher win and loss-wise, coming in at 33-33. But in those three seasons, he made two more starts than Arrieta, threw more innings, had a similar K/9, better BB/9, similar HR/9, and similar FIP.

For what it’s worth, Yu Darvish tied for 35th in WAR (10.0), going back to 2014, which is the last three seasons Darvish pitched. He missed 2015 recovering from Tommy John surgery. Quintana, going back those four seasons, still ranks sixth, just a decimal removed from Arrieta.

In 2017, Quintana also improved his GB/FB from 1.04 to 1.30. His groundball rate improved over four percent from 2016, and flyball rate dropped over four percent. Here is how Quintana projects out for the 2018 season.

Can’t please the cynic

Some might choose what turned out to be the last game of the season against the Dodgers as their Aha! moment.

I told you so!

Sure, Quintana allowed six earned runs over just two innings. Okay, I get that’s the lasting impression for the cynic, but then you’re conveniently ignoring other facts. Such as his solid 5 2/3 against the Nationals in the NLDS, which also happened to be his first career postseason start, and tasked with going toe-to-toe with Max Scherzer. Or even the five innings against the Dodgers in NLCS Game 1.

If we rewind the tape a bit, Quintana made 14 starts on the North Side, with nine quality starts. He failed to make it through five innings once, and opponents scored more than four earned runs off him just three times.

Next: Potential backup catchers for 2018

If the past can work as an indication of the future, then you take that, right? The Chicago Cubs stand to be pretty pleased going forward, and fans should be as well. For at least the next three seasons.