Chicago Cubs left-hander more than pulled his weight on Tuesday night, striking out a career-high 14 batters in the series opener against the Phillies.
On Tuesday morning, I penned a piece breaking down how successful – and consistent – Chicago Cubs southpaw Jose Quintana has been of late. Heading into the matchup with the Philadelphia Phillies, I felt pretty good about Quintana getting the ball in the opener.
For a guy who gets dumped on by fans more than just about any other starter in the rotation, last night’s game had to feel really good. Why, you ask? He accomplished a feat only one other Cubs hurler has ever managed.
Not a bad night at the yard. Although Quintana did not factor into the decision, he did everything he possibly could to help his team get a victory on a rainy night in Philadelphia. As we noted, the lefty struck out a career-high 14, allowing just one earned run and walking just one.
Talk about stepping up and taking care of business.
Three brutal outings have really skewed the veteran’s overall numbers for the year. He’s made 25 starts – and has allowed more than three earned runs only four times. The problem is in those four outings, he allowed a combined 26 runs. But with the Cubs in the thick of another postseason race, he’s taken things to a whole new level, pitching to a 1.89 ERA in August, when several other Cubs starters have struggled.
The secret to his success? Pounding the strike zone. That same recipe has helped Yu Darvish turn his season around after a pretty shaky first half. As Cole Hamels and Jon Lester work to get back in a rhythm, having these two guys step up may very well keep this Chicago boat afloat.
At this point, it’s honestly difficult to pencil out what a potential October rotation might look like. You assume, simply based on his pedigree, Lester takes one of those spots. Kyle Hendricks falls in the same boat. Hamels seems a likely choice, as well, especially if you can get him a start at Wrigley Field, where he carries a 2.35 ERA in nine starts.
But then, do you go with the guy who has absolutely filthy stuff in Darvish? Or do you trust someone like Quintana who, if you’re a betting man, is probably going to give you a quality start when you hand him the ball.
I like the idea of letting Darvish empty the tank for one inning in the postseason – but given his injury history, I don’t know if Chicago Cubs skipper Joe Maddon would be as keen on the idea. One thing is for sure: Jose Quintana has done more than enough to warrant a start in a big game. Tuesday night is just the latest evidence.