Jose Quintana is quietly becoming one of the best young pitchers in the game. In fact, only about a dozen starting pitchers in the entire American League can possibly claim to be pitching better than Quintana has so far this season. His emergence as the the most reliable starter on the Southside not named Chris Sale has been a joy to watch unfold. The problem is, many fans around the league might not have even noticed it happening. That’s because, as wonderful as Jose has performed this year, the White Sox haven’t done enough for those performances to consistently translate into wins.
Jose Quintana may be Chicago’s very own version of Charlie Brown. He’s affable, polite, mild-mannered, and he can’t seem to catch a break. Despite owning an ERA of only 3.15, which ranks 14th amongst American League starters according to ESPN.com, Quintana’s record stands at 5-7. John Danks, with an ERA of 4.35, boasts three more wins than Jose. Scott Carroll and Hector Noesi, models of inconsistency with ERAs of 4.52 and 5.21 respectively, each trail Quintana by only one win. Even Jon Hamm can’t figure this one out.
ERA alone does not tell a pitcher’s story, but digging deeper only makes you sympathize with him even more. He is tied for 5th in the American league with fifteen quality starts this season. Of those quality starts, he allowed one or fewer earned runs in seven of them. He won only two of those seven gems. Jose Quintana has watched the White Sox bullpen blow two saves during his starts. However, the biggest factor leading to his low win total is a considerable amount of no-decisions resulting from leaving a tie game, or watching the White Sox bats come to life after he had already taken a seat in the dugout.
The easy explanation would be run support. They must not be giving him any. Well, that’s part of it. He ranks 32nd out of 45 American League starters with 3.9 runs/game of support. However, Quintana has only pitched more than seven innings twice this season. He may need to condition himself to pitch deeper into games. Doing so gives him a better chance of exiting with a lead by reaping the rewards of a few late inning runs by his offense as the pitcher of record. As we have seen quite often already this year, the Pale Hose are no stranger to walk-offs and late game heroics.
The White Sox defensive efforts haven’t helped Jose Quintana’s cause either. To get an idea, compare his ERA to his Defensive Independent ERA (DIPS), which measures what a pitcher’s ERA would be if it were not for the effects of defense and dumb luck on their games. While Jose’s ERA is 3.15, his DIPS is 2.89, which ranks 8th in the American League among starters. This isn’t a huge disparity, but it does help illustrate the difference between his superior body of work and the subpar results of his labor.
The good news is that Jose Quintana is young and continues to improve year over year. The White Sox were wise to sign the 25-year-old to a five-year contract extension in March, which keeps him in a White Sox uniform until 2018, with club options for 2019 and 2020. He has flourished under the tutelage of Don Cooper and I expect continued improvement as he approaches the prime of his career. That improvement will come in the wins column as well, and when it does, you will be hearing a whole lot more about this blossoming young star.