Chicago Cubs: These 10 players must have success this season

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Chicago Cubs
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Chicago Cubs: Quintana yet to live up to the hype on the North Side

When the Cubs sent a prospect package headlined by outfielder Eloy Jimenez and pitcher Dylan Cease to the Chicago White Sox for Jose Quintana, we hoped we were getting a guy who could cement himself near the top of the rotation for years to come.

He had turned in over 1,000 frames of 3.51 ERA ball on the South Side, making at least 32 starts annually from 2013 to 2016. In 2016, as the Cubs chased down their first title in over a century, Quintana earned his first career All-Star selection, pitching to a 3.20 ERA, 3.62 K/BB ratio and 1.163 WHIP across a career-high 208 innings of work.

In short, he seemed to be exactly what Joe Maddon‘s club needed behind their pair of 2016 Cy Young finalists, Jon Lester and Kyle Hendricks. He pitched well following the trade, making 14 starts for the Cubs as the club won its second straight division and advanced to its third-straight NLCS.

But last season, the southpaw totaled just 174 1/3 innings, his lowest total since his 2012 rookie campaign and his earned run average finished north of 4.00 for the second consecutive year. His walk rate skyrocketed and he allowed a career-worst 1.3 homers per nine.

Given what the Cubs gave up to acquire him, Jose Quintana will likely never be evaluated in any objective sense by most fans. But even those who are logical in their evaluation of the left-hander undoubtedly expect more from him heading into 2019 – especially as Lester and Hamels head into the back half of their 30s, respectively.