Oft-maligned former Cubs pitcher Jose Quintana signs with the Pirates

(Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images) /

I’m not saying Chicago Cubs fans are known for being the most level-headed, rational beings on the planet, but they really took things to a new level when it came to Jose Quintana.

The left-hander, of course known best for coming over from the White Sox in the deal that sent top prospects Dylan Cease and Eloy Jimenez to the South Side back in 2017, was a reliable presence in the Cubs’ rotation virtually the entire time he was with the team. Still, to this day, fans hold a strange level of dislike for Quintana.

So why are we talking about him now? Well, the veteran is returning to the National League Central after inking a one-year contract with the Pittsburgh Pirates over the weekend, according to FanSided’s Robert Murray.

Last offseason, Quintana reunited with former Cubs manager Joe Maddon in Southern California, inking a one-year deal with the Angels. Things did not go well for the lefty, who made 10 starts and 14 relief appearances, struggling to the tune of a 6.75 ERA and 1.781 WHIP, although his 4.31 FIP suggested he might have deserved better.

After the Angels placed him on waivers in August, the San Francisco Giants picked him up and he made five relief appearances down the stretch for the NL West champions. He did not pitch in the postseason for Gabe Kapler’s club – and now looks to begin a new chapter in the Steel City.

It’s a move that makes sense for Pittsburgh, a team very much in rebuild mode and in need of arms to trot out there every five days. Cubs fans knocked Quintana for a lot of things, but no one could argue he was going to pitch on the days he was penciled in.

From 2013 to 2019 (and excluding the COVID-shortened 2020 season), he averaged 32 starts and 193 innings a year. So the $2 million he’s getting from the Pirates will be money well spent as long as he stays healthy and eats innings, which is what he’s always done well.

Why did Chicago Cubs fans get so frustrated when it came to Jose Quintana?

Circling back to his time with the Cubs, I can’t help but feel for the guy. For whatever reason (likely because of the steep price Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer paid in the deal) fans expected Quintana to pitch like an ace when the simple truth was that he was never an ace, at least not when it came to a quality ball club.

That’s not to say he wasn’t a valuable starter because he absolutely was. He had some great years with the White Sox, including an All-Star appearance in 2016 when he finished 10th in AL Cy Young voting. But the Cubs brought him in to eat innings and be a steady presence in the middle of the rotation and that’s exactly what he did – not to mention some big-time starts against the Brewers when the team was in the height of its window of contention.

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Here’s to wishing Q the best in Pittsburgh – but that the Chicago Cubs rough him up every time he gets the ball against them next season.