White Sox All-Star ace had solid start in WBC debut for Colombia on Friday. What does this mean for the South Siders?
Thursday night was the very anticipated opener for Team USA’s World Baseball Classic campaign. After falling short in the three previous WBCs, Team USA got another chance to prove that baseball is indeed America’s Past Time. However, their championship run would have to start against a determined Colombian team and their new ace, Chicago White Sox lefty Jose Quintana.
Quintana is coming off his best season in the Majors with career bests in wins, strikeouts, innings pitched, ERA and WHIP. His performance this season even earned him a well-deserved spot on the All-Star game roster, the first of his career.
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He was great for the Sox last season and his success launched him to the top of Colombia’s starting rotation and subsequently, the biggest game in WBC history for Colombia. Team Colombia did not enter the 2006 or 2009 WBC and they did not qualify in the 2013 WBC. So Thursday’s game would be the first game Colombia ever played in the WBC and Quintana got the call.
Quintana’s day against the USA would not be a walk in the park by any means. He faced a difficult handful of batters in last year’s All-Star game but that was only one inning. Team USA has a lineup virtually full of All-Stars, superstars and franchise players that include:
5x All-Star Adam Jones
3x All-Star & ’15-’16 MLB RBI-leader Nolan Arenado
4x All-Star Paul Goldschmidt
4x All-Star & 3x World Champion Buster Posey
3x All-Star Giancarlo Stanton
2x All-Star & 2015 NLCS MVP Daniel Murphy
And Quintana shut them down.
With the WBC First Round 65 pitch-limit, Quintana pitched 5.2 innings, struck out four and only allowed one hit. The one hit came at the hands of a Brandon Crawford (All-Star) single with two outs in the sixth inning. Quintana struck out the previous three batters, which were Andrew McCutchen (2014 MVP), Murphy and Stanton. So not only was Quintana dominant against a world-class lineup, he was just warming up. With Quintana forced out of the game, Crawford eventually scored on a double from Jones and Quintana was credited with the run and earned run.
Colombia went on to lose that game in extra innings by a score of 3-2 on a walk-off base hit by Jones. Colombia would go on to beat Canada 4-1 but in an incredible game against the heavily favored and defending champion Dominican Republic team, Colombia’s hopes of advancing faded away as they lost 10-3 to the DR.
Colombia’s Group C saw the Dominican Republic and USA go on to the next round but the talk of this group will be the resolve of the staunch Colombian team. They had a chance to win the group but lost two games in extra innings. Moreover, the talk of this Colombian team will be the performance of Quintana, among other standouts. More importantly for the White Sox, it’s almost certain that the talk of potential buyers and suitors is also about Quintana.
Quintana showed the teams that were reportedly interested in him–the Yankees and the Astros—the reason why they wanted a pitcher of his quality over the offseason. He was dominant and already in midseason form in March. Quintana’s stock rose higher in just one game than it was during the initial trade talks back in December. It was a pivotal game against a great team and he showed up in a very big way.
Quintana has consistently improved every season and after making his biggest leap yet last season, he looks poised for an even bigger 2017 season. The White Sox couldn’t have asked for a better performance from Quintana, other than allowing no hits, because the regular season hasn’t arrived just yet.
While many of the MLB’s superstars are away on international duty at the WBC, the White Sox still have a small window to deal Quintana before the season starts in April. Even if they don’t deal Quintana before April, based on his WBC start, Quintana’s stock could just continue to rise higher and higher during the regular season before the trade deadline in July.
The White Sox are hoping Quintana’s start has done enough for teams to give in to general manager Rick Hahn’s asking price or at the very least that Quintana can replicate his WBC performance. Overall, Quintana’s memorable WBC outing can do no harm for his future and the future of White Sox.