Cubs face old friend Jose Quintana as they battle the Pirates

Mandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports /

The first road trip of the season for the Chicago Cubs will feature some familiar faces on opposing teams. Their first stop will be in Pittsburgh to play the Pirates, who have former Cubs starter Jose Quintana penciled in for the home opener at PNC Park on Tuesday afternoon.

Quintana, 33, was a member of the Cubs from July 2017 through 2020, during which he posted a 4.24 ERA, 3.93 FIP, 1.3 WHIP, 420 strikeouts and 138 walks in 439 2/3 innings. He will be making his Pirates debut when he faces the Cubs.

Quintana is coming off his worst career season as an MLB hurler. After leaving in 2020 he signed with the Angels via free agency in 2021. He split time between the rotation and bullpen until he was claimed off waivers by the Giants in August. Between Los Angeles and San Francisco, he pitched to a 6.43 ERA, 4.66 FIP, 1.7 WHIP and 5.0 BB/9 in 63 innings. He had never posted an ERA above 4.7 nor a WHIP above 1.4 in a season prior to last year. His average exit velocity against was incredibly poor as was his barrel percentage.

It has been pretty much downhill for him since 2017. He was one of baseball’s most underrated starters when he was a member of the White Sox. Cubs fans will probably mostly remember the bad, though, though he did sprinkle in a number of solid outings, he just was not the consistent arm that he was on the South Side. He went from being traded for top-tier prospects to signing one-year deals.

This will be the first time Quintana will face the Cubs since August 15, 2015. He has solid in-game numbers against the Cubs, including a 3.76 ERA and 1.03 WHIP in four starts, but has never beaten them. It’s worth noting, though,  he has not faced most of the guys in the current lineup. Nobody from the Aug. 2015 lineup is still with Chicago.

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This year could wind up showing how much the former All-Star and World Baseball Classic pitcher has left in the tank. The way Quintana’s career turned so drastically still has people scratching their heads.