Pittsburgh Pirates: José Quintana Looking to Bounce Back in 2022
By Noah Wright
The Pittsburgh Pirates recently took a shot on left-handed starting pitcher José Quintana. But can he figure it out with his new team?
The Pittsburgh Pirates recently signed left-handed starting pitcher José Quintana to a low-risk one-year deal. It wasn’t all that long ago Quintana was considered one of the more premier starting pitchers in the game and landed the Chicago White Sox two of the more notable ranked prospects, that being Eloy Jimenez and Dylan Cease. But his last few years haven’t been very good.
So, can the Pittsburgh Pirates help Quintana bounce back and, in turn, get some quality innings out of him?
While the southpaw hasn’t had an All-Star caliber season since 2016, he was still a solid starter as recently as 2020. From 2017 through 2020, he had a solid 4.28 ERA, 3.95 FIP, and 1.31 WHIP. Those are all about league average numbers. This also came with a 7.7% walk rate, 22.9% strikeout rate, and 1.14 HR/9. While there’s nothing that sticks out as great in those numbers, there’s also nothing bad about them either.
There’s also a good argument that Quintana ran into some bad luck last season. He only pitched 63 innings having a 6.43 ERA and 1.73 WHIP. But his FIP was much closer to league average, sitting at 4.66 (resulting in a 108 FIP-). While he had a career-worst walk rate of 11.8%, he also posted a career-best strikeout rate of 28.6%. His advanced ERA estimators also paint a brighter picture.
Quintana had a 3.94 SIERA, 3.75 xFIP, and 4.09 DRA. All of those are well above the league average. So what caused him to have such poor results? Well, it was a mix of a high batting average on balls in play and an even higher HR/FB ratio. Q had a .378 batting average on balls in play, 51 points higher than his previous high in at least 50 innings, and 71 points higher than his career average. His HR/9 exceeds 20%, touching 21.4%. That’s over 10% higher than his career average. Both stats can be pointed to as examples of luckiness or unluckiness. Both are well out of the ordinary for Quintana.
Though it wasn’t completely all good pitching/bad results for Quintana. He still had a poor 90.6 exit velocity and 45.5% hard-hit rate. Sure, he had a healthy 45.5% ground ball rate, which helped counteract some of the negatives that come with giving up a fair amount of hard-hit balls, but both his exit velo and hard-hit rate were among the bottom of the leader board.
The pitcher who consistently posted a 4+ fWAR early in his career may no longer be the pitcher Quintana is today. But that doesn’t mean he can’t be a productive arm. Quintana has a history of being a workhorse. On average, he pitches 196 innings per 162 games. If he is healthy, Quintana can be a solid 4.00-4.30 ERA pitcher, which would fall around league average.