Chicago Cubs: Jose Quintana is rising to the occasion this season

(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /
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Chicago Cubs
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Chicago Cubs: Quintana takes a big step in the wrong direction

In 14 regular season starts with the North Siders in 2017, Quintana posted a respectable 3.74 earned run average and 3.25 FIP – not exactly eye-popping numbers, but enough to keep most folks happy. But, as a fan base (and I’m sure as an organization), everyone wanted to see him take that next step in 2018.

Instead, he regressed in a fairly significant way. His FIP jumped up to 4.43 and he allowed career-highs in both home runs (1.3) and walks per nine (3.5) as his strikeout rate fell. He still made 32 starts, but by several measures, he was simply a league-average arm (103 ERA+).

Which brings us to this season.

Even this spring, Quintana looked different. Call it what you want, but this guy was ready to be a difference-maker for a pitching staff that the front office had such little faith in, they picked up a $20 million option on Cole Hamels.

In four starts spanning 15 innings, the former All-Star hurler turned in a 1.80 ERA, 0.867 WHIP and a 12-to-3 strikeout-to-walk ratio. In short, he was hitting his spots and mixing his pitches well. But it was Cactus League play, so no one seemed to make much of it.