There is a subset of fans of any team that loves to complain about the club’s acquisitions. The Cubs have a vocal contingent of these individuals. One of the targets of their ire is SP José Quintana, who was acquired by the Cubs through a trade with the Chicago White Sox in the middle of the 2017 season. Since the Northsiders did not sail to a World Series championship in 2017 and Quintana has struggled early in the 2018 season, these fans have leapt to the conclusion that the trade was a “bust.”
Darvish bust, Happ Bust, Chatwood bust, Quintana bust
— Jason Walek (@JasonWalek) July 11, 2018
However, people tend to forget the 2017 Cubs were 43-45 at the All-Star Break, 5.5 games behind the Milwaukee Brewers. Quintana went 7-3 with a 3.74 ERA and 118 ERA+ after moving to the North Side, helping propel the team to a 49-25 second half which took them past Milwaukee for the NL Central Division championship and a deep playoff run. In my opinion, the Cubs would not have made the playoffs without the help of the Colombian lefty, as the rest of the 2017 starting rotation was suffering from an extreme case of firstinningitis.
But, since the hate for this trade runs deep, let’s take a closer look at Quintana’s stats since joining the Cubs as well as his prior numbers with the Sox. Despite being crowned as MLB’s most consistent pitcher by MLB.com analyst Andrew Simon, he only had a record of 50-54 during his tenure with the White Sox, mainly due to poor run support. Since joining the Cubs, he has a record of 15-9 even though he has posted a higher ERA in the NL (3.86, compared to his mark of 3.51 with the Sox). This may be due to higher walk numbers with the Northsiders (Cubs BB9: 3.3; Sox BB9: 2.4), which seems to be a nagging problem for the entire Cubs staff and may have led to the firing of pitching coach Chris Bosio. Quintana has given up fewer hits with the Cubs (Cubs H9: 8.0; Sox H9: 8.8) and has better strikeout numbers (Cubs SO9: 9.1; Sox SO9: 7.6), so the ERA increase likely comes from hits driving in runners given free passes. His WHIP with the Cubs remains consistent with his AL numbers (Cubs: 1.247; Sox: 1.250) and his ERA+ is only slightly lower (Cubs: 111; Sox: 115), but still above-average.
Quintana’s struggles in the 2018 season are due to inflated walk numbers (BB9: 4.1; WHIP: 1.372; SO/W: 1.93) with strikeout numbers down somewhat from his career high in 2017 (2017 SO: 207; 2017 SO9: 9.9; 2018 SO: 87; 2018 SO9: 8.0). A number of Cubs starters are suffering from this issue, most notably Tyler Chatwood, and even NL All-Star Jon Lester posted higher walk numbers at the beginning of the season, although he has evened things out with his strong performance during the month of June. High walk numbers remain a coaching issue that needs to be addressed to ensure the Cubs’ continued success.
After taking a look at Quintana’s numbers, it is clear that he has been quite successful with the Cubs and although wildness has been a problem of late, he is striking out more hitters and giving his team a chance to win.
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I grew up a Cubs fan in Northwest Illinois and became an avid follower of the team during the Sosa-McGwire home run chase. Now I am the #1 Cubs fan in Toronto, Canada. You can find me on Twitter @Troll_Hamels (personal) and @farnorthsider (blog).