Chicago Cubs: Why should we expect anything new from Jose Quintana?
Heading into what may very well be his last year with the Chicago Cubs, left-hander Jose Quintana seems to believe he has something to prove this season.
Veteran southpaw Jose Quintana will never get a fair shake in Wrigleyville. With each passing year, that becomes more the case as former Chicago Cubs prospects Eloy Jimenez and Dylan Cease garner more and more attention as members of the crosstown rival Chicago White Sox.
A tough end to the 2019 campaign left a sour taste in fans’ mouths when it came to Quintana. In five starts over the season’s final month, the lefty allowed 37 hits across 18 2/3 innings of work. Opponents torched him, hitting .402 during that span – hardly a sustainable mark at any level.
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None of that escapes Quintana, who knows all of this and is heading into the 2020 campaign with a bit of a chip on his shoulder.
"“I want to feel happy with what I’m doing on the mound,” Quintana said. “Get my career in a good spot and show the fans in Wrigley how it can be, how everybody can feel excited when I’m on the mound. That’s the reason we’re here.”"
Since joining the Cubs ahead of the 2017 trade deadline, Quintana hasn’t lived up to the hype. Hindsight is, of course, 20/20. At the time, Theo Epstein viewed the then-White Sox ace as a young, cost-controlled addition to a rotation that already featured a pair of 2016 Cy Young finalists and the 2015 National League Cy Young winner in Jake Arrieta.
He hasn’t been a drag on the club by any means. Really, it just comes down to inconsistency. That’s what’s hurt Quintana more than anything. For example, as bad as he was over the final weeks of the 2019 season, he was equally dominant the month prior (2.02 ERA in six starts).
Looking for answers, Quintana got together with pitching coach Tommy Hottovy over the offseason, re-thinking how he throws his change-up, which was woefully ineffective last season. If he can establish that offering as a significant piece of his arsenal, he believes he can put the past behind him and forge a new path forward as a key member of the Cubs rotation.
"“I think the four-seam grip is going to help me more get swings than a two-seamer grip,” Quintana said. “But, I think it’s the best change to throw that pitch with confidence. That’s all I need. That’s what I’ve been doing. I want to show you in the games.”"
The 2020 rotation is headlined by Kyle Hendricks and Yu Darvish. The former is the epitome of consistency and dependability. The latter turned in an utterly eye-popping run to close out last year, and will look to build on that this season.
But from there, questions loom. Can Jon Lester bounce back for one more go-round, leading the Cubs back to the postseason? Who will be the team’s final starter? And last, but not least, can Jose Quintana finally live up to the hype and help anchor the team’s staff as it eyes a return to October?