When the Cubs traveled to Milwaukee for a four-game series starting September 21, their division lead was 4½ games. The Cubs had four games remaining on a 10-game road trip in St. Louis following the series and the Brewers had hopes of winning three or four games in the series and staying alive in the race for the Central Division.
The first three games of the series were all 10-inning games. They were all closely contested and stressful but the Cubs took the first two before losing on Saturday. That Sunday the starting pitcher was Jose Quintana.
The Cubs were held scoreless through three innings, having seen two runners reach base but both get eliminated one batter later by a double play grounder. In the fourth inning the Cubs offense pushed a run across when Jay lead off with a single and Bryant doubled into the left field gap. They’d ultimately get runners to second and third, but could not add on.
Quintana retired the side in order in the fourth. Anderson did the same in the top of the fifth and Quintana got into the first trouble of the day when he allowed a two out singel and allowed Keon Broxton to steal second. But Q struck out Chase Anderson and kept the Brewers at bay.
The Cubs went in order in the sixth and Jose again saw a runner get on and then steal second with two outs. But Quintana retired Travis Shaw and it was 1-0 heading to the seventh. Willson Contreras lead off with a single and Ben Zobrist lined a home run to make it 3-0 to start the seventh.
With a little bit of breathing room, Jose went into high gear. He retired the Brewers in order in the seventh, eighth and ninth innings. He struck out three over those last three innings and ten on the day. He walked just one batter and allowed three hits. It was easily the most dominant performance of his time with the Cubs. The Cubs tacked two runs on for good measure and went on to win 5-0 effectively ending the post season aspirations of the Brewers aside from a very slim chance at chasing down a wildcard spot. All in all, the game resulted in a WPA of .474 for Jose, the ninth largest by a Cub in 2017.
Jose Quintana is signed through the 2020 season (the last two years are options that the Cubs will almost certainly pick up). The Cubs paid a steep prospect price for him, but knowing that they should have him for three more seasons at very reasonable prices for a starting pitcher has an enormous value. He’s had an ERA+ above 100 in every year of his career and prior to this year they were all over 110 (he was at 117 for his time with the Cubs). He was an All Star in 2016 and finished tenth in the Cy Young voting. He’s already generated more than 20 bWAR in his career and he’s only 28. Jose Quintana should be one of the cornerstones of the Cubs for three more years.
Al cited this tweet in his game recap:
José Quintana: first #Cubs CG shutout by a lefty since Rich Hill 9/16/2006, snapping streak of 537 starts by Cubs lefties (546 w/playoffs)— Christopher Kamka (@ckamka) September 24, 2017
MN Exile said: Quintana looked as sharp today as I have seen any Cub pitcher this season.
I feel good about him being in Cubs pinstripes for the next few years, and maybe more after that.
Solves part of the near future pitching uncertainty in a solid fashion.
And still miss the old barn said: Q is gonna hit the big time very soon
i can actually see him being our ACE next year…with Lester and Kyle 2,3 then monty and whomever we pick up (otani would be nice Theo)
now thats hes more comfortable in Blue hes reverted to his norm…which is the pitcher he was the last 2 years before getting caught up in trade rumors this season and the world baseball mess up of his early season arm
Later this week, I’ll be back with Part 4 of my look back at the 1984 Cubs, looking at games 23-29, a home stand against the three National League California teams. A week from today I’ll bring you the eighth worst game by WPA for the Cubs this season. That game will feature another clunker of a pitching performance.