José Quintana has been lights-out his last two starts, throwing seven shutout innings against the Pirates at Wrigley followed by seven more against the Marlins in Miami. It was the best he’s looked as a Cub, but I was curious as to how it stacked up against other consecutive starts in the lefty’s career.
So I perused game logs dating all the way back to his rookie year in 2012 and found four other instances of Quintana pitching consecutive games with no runs allowed. A quick look at these four demonstrates that this recent stretch may well be the best of his career.
The first set came in Quintana’s sophomore Sox season in 2013, against Cleveland on April 12 and Toronto on April 17. He threw 13.2 total innings of shutout ball with six hits, 14 strikeouts, and a pair of walks.
April 22 and 27 of 2016 saw consecutive shutout appearances against the Rangers and, you guessed it, the Jays. His 13 total innings included eight base knocks, 14 set down on strikes, and five bases on balls.
At this point, we have to address the biggest discovery here, which is that José Quintana really owns the Toronto Blue Jays. He is a career 7-2 with a 1.88 ERA in 10 starts against them, significantly better than his 2.50 mark versus the similarly dominated Brewers. So his trade over to the National League was wildly popular north of the border.
Speaking of that trade to the Cubs, Q also had two consecutive scoreless efforts right before he was moved across town in June 2017. The unfortunate clubs that time the Twins on June 22 and the Yankees five days later. The line for those starts: 13 innings, 15 strikeouts, four walks.
That brings us to April 11 and 16 of 2019, perhaps the best combination of control and strikeouts Quintana has ever displayed in a two-game stretch. In those 14 sterling innings, he allowed 10 hits while striking out 18 and walking only one.
You could make an argument the games in 2014 are close to as dominant, but it’s very obvious that these are by far his best consecutive starts in a Cubs uniform. So what’s driving the improvement? Perhaps it’s his improved changeup, or just owning the zone with first-pitch strikes. Whatever it is, hopefully he can keep it up.
Oh, and next time the Cubs play the Blue Jays, Quintana has to get a start.