After spending the first five-plus years of his career dedicating his thoughts to retiring hitters, Jose Quintana suddenly found himself being one.
That was the left-handed-throwing, right-handed-batting pitcher's biggest fear when he was traded midseason to the Cubs from the White Sox.
"That was a little scary," Quintana said.
He made just 32 plate appearances with the White Sox. And had zero hits.
But the Cubs didn't acquire Quintana to hit. Even though he had two hits with the Cubs during the regular season, and another this postseason.
They traded two of their top prospects — Eloy Jimenez and Dylan Cease — for a quality starting pitcher who comes at an affordable price. Quintana is owed just under $30 million over the next three seasons.
With Jake Arrieta likely gone to free agency and John Lackey a free agent who could retire, it was important that the Cubs try to solidify their starting rotation for the foreseeable future. Quintana made sense, most likely in the No. 3 spot behind Jon Lester and Kyle Hendricks.
"They're not available that often," Cubs President Theo Epstein said of quality starting pitchers under contract for multiple years. "When he was available, even at a high cost, it made a lot of sense to add him. The type of personality and character you can trust."
A type of personality his teammates line up to talk about.
Quintana was reunited on the Cubs with his former catcher with the Sox, Alex Avila.
"As long as I've known him, he's been a guy that goes about his business," Avila said. "You never have to worry about him not being prepared.
"I don't think he's shy. When he needs to say something, he'll say it. Then it will hold more weight."
Quintana said he's sometimes loud, like when he talks to teammates and friends. But mostly he allows his pitching to do the talking.
And the Cubs like what they've heard so far.
Quintana went 7-3 with a 3.74 ERA, 98 strikeouts and 21 walks in 841/3 innings spanning 14 starts with the Cubs during the regular season. He was 4-8 with a 4.49 ERA, 109 strikeouts and 40 walks in 1041/3 innings of 18 starts with the Sox.
"I've been around a lot of things this year, and I started a little early, too, with the WBC," he said. "But I grew up and learned how special this position is for me."
His maiden voyage into the postseason began in Game 3 of the division series, when he lasted 52/3 innings and allowed no earned runs, two hits and struck out seven on 96 pitches.
His relief appearance in Game 5 helped the Cubs advance to the National League Championship Series. In Game 1 of the NLCS on Saturday, he allowed two hits, two runs and two walks in five innings of a start he wasn't sure he'd make until the last minute.
Much like he felt Wednesday, when he wasn't sure whether he would be pitching again this season.
But either way, he knew where he'd be next season.
"Oh, my God, I get to stay here," Quintana said. "It can't be better."
Source : http://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/baseball/cubs/ct-jose-quintana-future-cubs-spt-1019-20171018-story.html