James Gordon | June 8, 2017
Although many MLB scouts and GMs still believe that White Sox ace Jose Quintana’s trade value has barely taken a hit due to a pair of recent starts, some of the teams that have had their eyes on “Q” for a rotation boost have cooled their interest, and you can’t really blame them for being a little cautious with him. Prior to his last start versus Tampa Bay, Quintana was knocked around by the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Boston Red Sox, being clobbered for 15 ER over 7 IP. By no mean should those couple of starts generalize Quintana’s value, as his track record itself shows the kind of pitcher that Quintana normally is, but his lack of consistency, which he is very well known for, is what has some opposing GMs extremely worrisome.
Consistency comes in two forms for Quintana. The first being that he has pitched at least 200 innings in his last four seasons, and he is on pace to do it yet again this year. The second form of Quintana’s consistency is keeping the ball in the park. His ground ball percentage is at a career-low (39.2%) while his home run-to-flyball ratio is at a career-high (12.3%), not to mention that his FIP is abnormally high at 4.18. Another number to mention is Quintana’s career-high BB/9 (3.62). That’s more than a walk higher than his next career-high in that category. The combination of career-highs in walk rate and fly ball percentage has lead to major issues for Quintana, who has surrendered a career-high 10 HR up to this point in the season.
Many have speculated that Quintana’s struggles haven’t come from issues with his stuff, but rather his control has been the suspect. He’s been relying heavily on his fastball and curveball this year, rather than utilizing his changeup. This comes as no surprise as Quintana has given up most of his home runs (and runs in general) on his changeup. This has caused some confidence issues for Jose, who has shied away from using what was a pretty darn good changeup and has put himself in a position where he seemingly only has two main pitches.
White Sox fans and the front office have been hoping Quintana could regain his lost confidence in a start against the Tampa Bay Rays, who have been struggling to maintain a .500 record this season. What then took place that night in St. Petersburg was a crowd-pleaser, and quite frankly, a major relief. Although Quintana walked four batters, which is one less than his season high and continues to be a nagging issue for him, he pitched 5.1 innings of one-run baseball while striking out seven and logging a season-high in ground-ball percentage (57.1%). Even though he didn’t reach the six-inning mark to get the ‘quality start’ and ended up with a no-decision, this was a much-needed start for the struggling Quintana, who seems to have regained some of his confidence on the mound.
The White Sox will see if he maintains his confidence level, as it will be put to the test in a weekend showdown with Carlos Carrasco and the Cleveland Indians. Although the Indians have been fighting to put up runs consistently as of late, they still have the potential to put up a crooked number in the runs column. A pitching gem against the Tribe will be a sure sign that Jose Quintana is back to being the Jose Quintana that both fans and the team know and love.