Jose Quin tana will make his first start of 2020 for the Cubs on Tuesday night.
This isn’t the swan song Jose Quintana or the Chicago Cubs wanted. The team picked up the left-hander’s option in the offseason, hoping he would fill a valuable role in the rotation this year. Instead, he’s given them just two relief appearances, missing almost the entire season with a pair of injuries.
But he’ll have a chance to leave his mark after all, taking the ball on Tuesday at PNC Park against the Pittsburgh Pirates. If all went well, that would line him up to also start the final regular season game of the year next Sunday against the White Sox – giving him two potential auditions for the Cubs’ postseason rotation.
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"“I’m healthy. My arm, my body is really good right now,” Quintana told MLB.com on Monday. “Right now, I’m really focusing on tomorrow. I don’t know what’s coming for me after tomorrow, but I want to be ready for any role David needs me.”"
Lately, the pitching hasn’t been as big of an issue as the offense. Chicago entered the series opener against the Pirates having scored just one run in their last 33 innings. It won’t much matter who takes the ball if the team doesn’t flip a switch at the dish here in the final week.
Right now, you can lock in Yu Darvish and Kyle Hendricks in your first two postseason matchups. That’s a given. The question, then, becomes who does David Ross turn to after that? Does he go with the tried-and-true option in Jon Lester? What about recent no-hitter-tossing Alec Mills? Does he really roll the dice and go with Quintana in a piggyback effort to change up the look with a southpaw?
It’s anybody’s guess right now. I’d guess Lester takes the ball in a Game 3 in October. It’s hard to argue with the body of work he’s turned in during his outstanding career. But that doesn’t mean Quintana sits on the sidelines, either.
If these two tune-ups go according to plan, he could become a go-to presence in the Chicago bullpen. Right now, the team doesn’t have that key lefty. Kyle Ryan has struggled this year (his barrel rate has more than doubled over 2019) and Andrew Chafin has just one inning to his credit in a Cubs uniform.
The recent loss of Rowan Wick leaves a huge hole in the back of the bullpen no matter how you slice it. Chicago needs a healthy Jose Quintana heading into October if the team hopes to put together one last deep postseason run.