Q-tastic--Cubs 7 Dodgers 2

I was very happy when the Cubs landed José Quintana. He was exactly the type of pitcher that the Cubs front office should have coveted at the time and then his up and down Cubs career has removed a lot of luster off that initial feeling. He has had spectacular outings as a Cub. He has strung a few of them together, but even the most fervent supporters of Q have to admit that he has failed to pitch at the level that made him one of the most under appreciated starting pitchers in baseball. And at the risk of putting my baseball Costanza powers on Q, I'm going to proclaim him finally back. Three straight, seven inning outings is something we have yet to see and today's quality start against a very dangerous Dodgers lineup might be the most impressive despite giving up two more runs than his previous two outings combined.

WPA CHART

Source: FanGraphs

Quintana worked a quick 1-2-3 inning to start the game. Kenta Maeda struggled right from the start. Ben Zobrist singled to start the game and Kris Bryant drew a walk after an extended plate appearance. Anthony Rizzo had a productive out to advance the pair into scoring position. Javier Báez walked to load the bases up with just one out, but Kyle Schwarber swung through a 3-2 changeup in the zone for a key second out. Or at least it felt that way prior to Willson Contreras clearing the bases with a double. Daniel Descalso followed with another double to extend the Cubs lead to 4-0. Q would be the final out of the first inning as the Cubs batted a round against the Japanese starter.

Corey Seager singled to start the second inning, but Q settled back in to retire the next three batters. Zobrist singled again to start the bottom half of the inning. Bryant hit a pop fly to second before Rizzo clobbered a two run shot to give the Cubs a comfortable 6-0 lead. Báez and Schwarber singled before Maeda struck out the hot hitting pair of Contreras and Descalso to stop the bleeding.

Q put the lead off runner again in the third inning. This time it was a free pass to Austin Barnes. Maeda bunted Barnes into scoring position. Kike Hernández struck out for the second out, but Justin Turner made the free base runner hurt the Cubs with a run scoring double. David Freese grounded out to end the inning. Quintana then pitched three straight clean innings to head into the seventh inning holding onto that same 6-1 lead. Unfortunately the Cubs bats also went cold against Maeda and then young lefty Julio Urías.

The Dodgers finally got their potent lineup going against Q in the seventh inning. A.J. Pollock scooped a single into left field and then a ball dropped between Schwarber and Jason Heyward off the bat of Cody Bellinger. It would have been a tough play and it was a potentially scary play as the two outfielders came close to colliding. The end result was two healthy Cubs fielders but a pair of runners in scoring position with one out. Chris Taylor hit a run scoring fielder's choice making it a 6-2 score. Barnes drew a two out walk and then Q struck out pinch hitter Max Muncy with a generous 3-2 strike call to end the frame.

Caleb Ferguson pitched the bottom of the seventh and Javy got Q's run back with one swing of the bat. The one out blast to right center gave the Cubs a five run lead back. That lead looked in jeopardy as the Cubs bullpen had to get six outs to close out the game. Steve Cishek struck out Enrique Hernández for the first out but back to back singles brought the lefty Kyle Ryan into the game. Ryan was victimized by a groundball single to right off the bat of Corey Seager. The bases were loaded with just one out and Ryan had to retire Pollock and Bellinger. Ryan struck out Pollock and Bellinger grounded out to keep the Cubs up by five runs.

The unique arm angle of Kyle Ryan baffled Dodgers bats in the ninth inning. A quick 1-2-3 inning removed any drama from the game that seventh and eighth inning had provided. That was a relief to many Cubs fans. Almost as much of a relief as the fact that the Cubs are finally above .500.

Random Reference
While not fair to José Quintana he will always be the guy the Cubs traded Eloy Jimenez and Dylan Cease for. That deal has looked more like Matt Karchner for Jon Garland than Sammy Sosa for George Bell. Again not fair to Quintana who has provided a number of key games in a Cubs uniform, he has not lived up to the pitcher that was worth the package. This guy who has taken the ball though the past three times out might be able to repay that debt though.

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  • Ryan did a good job tonight. I hope they hang onto him when Monty & Lester come back.

  • Will Russell be trade before he has to be put on the roster

  • Will Russell be trade before he has to be put on the roster

  • In reply to emartinezjr:

    I say, let russell come back play well maybe trade him for a closer in july? Though, I must admit I dont know who is out there.

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    In reply to bleachercreature:

    A lot of fans, including myself, are going to be very upset when Joe puts Russell at SS and Javy back at 2b. Javy has definitely earned the position. Bote, Descalso, & Zo are way better options imo also. I really hope these guys don't lose playing time when Russell gets back, but we all know Maddon will do it. Hopefully they trade him, keep him in Iowa, or let him ride the bench.

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    In reply to Wrigley0923:

    Maybe the Yankees will pick him up. They need quite a few position players at the moment. Russell can play SS, 2b, or 3b for them.

  • In reply to Wrigley0923:

    Well, I counted a few ground ball hits that have gotten through the infield around second with the three current second basemen, that would not have with Javy. I think that Russell/Baez is our best middle infield defensively, but the offense would probably weaken.

  • In reply to Wrigley0923:

    Maddon is going to put him at SS. Can't trade him for awhile, they won't keep in Iowa and he will play on a regular basis.

  • It's OK, Mike. I like Q too. I still disagree with your courting of Yu, but hey, we all miss.

    Cubs win. Against the Dodgers. This is good. I'm not gonna think to much. Just this from them boys from Texas:

    "Easin' down the highway in a new Cadillac.
    I had a fine fox in the front,
    I had three more in the back."

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    Just for Jonathan, although he probably knows this one. He says to source, and I will:

    https://youtu.be/JIrhcOIYfA8

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    In reply to BarleyPop:

    You don’t have to source everything BP, it’s just nice for me (and I’m sure others) to know. I admire your range of music knowledge, and you have been quoting some of my favorite artists too.

  • Only El Mago can steal first base.

  • In reply to Cubs09:

    Thanks. I'm about to blow a gasket.

    We all have fun poking at each other. We all have our quirks. I love Javy, and I'm a math nerd and baseball fan who sees a flaw in the WAR formula. It makes no sense for me to fix it now. Honestly, I'm not that smart. I don't know how.

    But I'm told by baseball experts that Ednel Javier Baez wins the Cubs 4-5 games per year. This really bums me out. He's won that many already. These pundits, who I see echoing each other's thoughts but not watching games, say he's worth 4-5. I guess Baez is done for the year, here in late April. The experts can't be wrong. That sucks if Javy has to retire.

    Of course Javy doesn't have to retire, and of course all these systems are wrong. That's the beauty of baseball, and what numbers will never match.

    El Mago plays baseball. Nerds who can't play baseball think they can numerically comprehend what they can't physically produce.

    Tell me again how a Yelich walk in the 6th inning of a 7-1 game is more valuable than Javy's reputation forcing a defensive fumble and leading to the game-winning run. WAR can't calculate that, yet.

    I am a baseball nerd. I admit it. I love established numbers. I worship them, in fact. I welcome all the new ways of measuring greatness. And I embrace all the new metrics.

    My problem with some numbers are that they are not complete enough. We have gone from average to OBP to WAR. If you think you can cut down the artistry of the game of baseball to mere numbers, good luck to you. You are running a fool's errand, and honestly, you're jealous.

    The greatest computer in the world can't keep up with the game of baseball. And the newest and finest stats can't keep up with Javier Baez. I'm not just being a homer; everyone in baseball agrees he does things no one else does.

    The nerds need to pay attention. And play catch-up. It's just human nature.

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    Barley WAR is not based on games won by a player. Not sure how it’s calculated but it’s based on comparison to the Replacement player.

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    I am with you. I understand war somewhat, but I’m not the biggest fan of it. My eyes Tell me. And yes, stats tell me the cumulative body of work. And Barley, I’m 1 of the few that thinks base hits drive in more runs than walks... So batting average still means something to me, combined with the walks. The Batting average is the biggest # in the obp.

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    WAR is a valuable stat but it can be misleading in my eyes putting too much weight on a players walk rate. Now I'm a pretty forward thinking fan I use analytics and metrics to help me get a full picture of evaluating a player. But when Kris Bryant had a higher WAR in 2017 then Baez did last year that just proves the flaws in the formula. It's a flawed statistic when viewing productive players at extreme ends of the walk spectrum like Baez and KB. I thought KB played great in 2015-16 but to see him put up a similar WAR in 2017 compared with those seasons when his power numbers were down and his numbers in RBI spots were amongst the worst in baseball that year (Avg with RISP was horrible if I recall) just displays the stats flaw. It's a valuable statistic but like all stats can be heavily distorted by unique players.

  • In reply to kkhiavi:

    All summary statistics has flaws - WAR estimates are not unique in that regard. So yes - it is valuable in some ways, but I agree that there are some characteristics it is going to underestimate or miss in a 'real' player.

    Baez just has some of those characteristics that WAR estimates are going to overlook or underemphasize.

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    Barley- The reason the walk is valuable to the Brewers in that situation is because he’s not making an out and he’s now a runner on base who can score runs. I too am no big fan of WAR, but it does tend to give you an overall number to compare players. It’s definitely not perfect, as nothing is, but while it also doesn’t differentiate or calculate the impact of Javy’s instincts, like avoiding the tag running to first base, it also doesn’t punish Javy more for striking out while a pitcher doesn’t throw one strike (or even hittable pitch to the average baseball player with a bat in his hand) in those occasions that he flails away at pitches when the pitcher is trying to pitch around him and give him first base for free. His greed in wanting to hit those pitches probably should be dinged more because he is taking at bats away from following teammates while he could be standing on first, stealing second, forcing a bad throw because he doesn’t put that pressure on the defense that sends him to 3rd base. And then scoring on a wild pitch or sac fly. If he takes even 66% of those walks that are trying to be given to him, he can make much more positive things happen for his team than striking out.

    For instance, in the first inning of last night’s game, did Javy have to be the hero in the first inning? With runners on base, should he have taken bigger hacks than he did Nd use less discretion? He had a great at bat, and worked a walk. Had he struck out. Contreras doesn’t get that bat to drive in 3 runs, and the 4 spot they put up in the first just doesn’t happen. Further, does the 2nd inning Rizzo 2-run HR happen if the first inning ends at Schwarber’s at bat instead of 9 batters in the first? That is a perfect example why taking the walk can be a much bigger boost to the team than the magic hit that his bat should never have touched, yet it drops in for a hit.

    In my opinion, Javy’s at bat in the first was way more important than his solo HR late in the game, but I’ll admit I loved seeing Javy continue going with that opposite field approach throughout the game. But what I really liked about his HR AB was that he took the balls off the plate and crushed the mistake fastball down the middle, and crushed it without trying to do too much. He has all the bat speed and power to allow the ball to travel deep into the zone and then hit it. When you have that kind of gift, there is no other way to play the game.

    If he keeps this approach consistent throughout the year, he will be the MVP, and if he does it for a large portion of his career, he may be invited to the Hall someday. Also, if his approach does remain consistent this season, he will be a 10.5 WAR player this year and the pundits will rethink exactly who Javy is...

    By the way, I loved the Contreras double down the 3rd baseline in the first inning. As soon as that ball was hit, I knew Javy would be scoring from first.

  • In reply to Cubber Lang:

    I appreciate the knowledge feedback, Cubber. I just go off sometimes and get off track, not making my points as clearly as I should. I fully understand how WAR works and admit it's a useful comparative stat. I also believe it is flawed and taken too literally, and I guess that's my biggest gripe. It is imperfect but constantly evolving, and I take great joy in seeing a player like Javy do things on a baseball field that aren't easily mathematically calcuable. He is a great learning tool, and I enjoy the thought of nerds' heads exploding trying to figure him out.

    I agree with nearly every critique you make of his game. It frustrates me as well. But that's the thing: no fan gets this worked up over Ryan Theriot. We have these conversations and disagreements because we all see how unique the talent of Javy is.

    We all want the same thing: for him to fully harness and realize that immense talent. I think we have witnessed great strides over the past year. And when he does correct the few remaining flaws in his game, that you so frequently point out, well...

    I pity the fool...

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    Haha, I pity the fool too...

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    "the knowledgeable feedback". I don't sweat typos, but sometimes the autocorrect can change the meaning. That almost sounded condescending, which wasn't my intent at all.

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    We love in an autocorrect world and now just have to decipher the true meaning of worlds typed on the webs. For that reason, I didn’t fix anything that’s gone astray I this post... acts all for Barley’s pleasure!

    And I really did know you understand the foundation beneath the WAR and we’re calling it out for the immeasurables. I just lost site of that it my quick long winded reply as I should’ve been leaving for work instead.

  • In reply to Cubber Lang:

    Love the creativity. Now go to work.

  • Hey, guess who’s 2 games out now & tied for 3rd with 3 games in hand?

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    Q had pitched extraordinarily well his last 3 starts but we won’t be able to judge this trade for a number of years. If he leads us to a WS title then I’ll have no complaints—unless Eloy and Dylan lead the Sox to multiple titles. Right now we don’t have a hitter or a pitcher like either of them in our system so we need a great return.
    For now, Q is looking very good, and he’s on a roll.

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    See I’m not sure about that, Jonathan. Q has been inconsistent since his arrival but not without value. He’s been good for more than 5 WAR over just about a season and a half and while you would hope that number was a couple of ticks higher, Eloy and Cease have provided exactly zero wins in that time. It’s like cashing your annuity in for a bulk sum, you don’t get full value in return but it allows you to accomplish goals now by paying for that later. If Q is this guy for the remainder of this year and next then I think the trade was worth it. Pitching, even MOR pitching, is expensive and you can’t even compete without it. If he is part of winning a WS, well then I think we will have won the trade. Damn he looks good right now.

    On a personal note I’m having a slightly risky right heart cath procedure today to evaluate me for a heart transplant. After living with it for a decade my congestive heart failure has reached stage 4 and I’m running out of options. My current prognosis, without a transplant, is under a year. Think good thoughts, please.

  • In reply to TC154:

    Wow. I’m sorry to read this.

  • In reply to TC154:

    I hope you get a transplant and it’s successful.

  • In reply to TC154:

    Prayers are with you, TC!!!!

  • In reply to TC154:

    Good luck to you. Prayers for good results.

  • In reply to TC154:

    Best of luck TC...our prayers are firmly with you.

  • In reply to TC154:

    Best wishes for a full recovery, TC. I hope to see you contributing to this blog for many years to come.

  • In reply to TC154:

    Honestly sad to hear this TC I've always enjoyed my interactions with you as much as anyone, so hate to see a member of this community dealing with health issues. I wish you the best through this difficult situation for you and your family.

  • In reply to TC154:

    Sorry to read this, TC. You've been a great Denizen contributor. Good luck to you. Hoping it all goes well and we enjoy many more seasons here.

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    In reply to TC154:

    TC, I of course wish you all the best. We need you here.

  • In reply to TC154:

    Good luck and excellent medical professionals to you TC.

  • In reply to TC154:

    Just now seeing your comment, TC. You obviously have the support of everyone here, and reading your posts over years assures me you are surrounded by the support of many people. You got this.

    In moments like this a single lyric often pops in my head, but right now I'm overloaded. I send them all your way.

    Good luck, my friend!

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    In reply to TC154:

    I will be praying for you. I am here in Austin right now as my big brother ( whose just 47 and a runner and in good shape) just had a triple by pass heart surgery, so I am here helping him and the family out. My main job ( now that he's home after a successful operation, thankfully) is to drive him to PT and be the personal chauffeur for his 2 teenage kids. ( god forbid they take a bus to school like I did)

    Please let us know how everything went today.

    I really hope they can find a donor for you.

  • Damn all the positive vibes I've got man. Certainly puts something as inconsequential as the outcome of a crosstown trade in perspective.

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    Pulling for you TC!! Look forward to your posts AFTER your procedure.

  • I give credit when credit is due quintana has pitched good up to this point(brewers game the exception).Will never love that trade but accepted it.He's looked very sharp and pitched deep into games lately

  • In reply to bolla:

    This is my speculation Bolla but I like some of the adjusments Tommy Hottovy is making with him utilizing that changeup more in particular. Like Hottovy I think Q's changeup is fine for his 3rd pitch no reason to be so scared to use it like in the past. Joe Maddon and Hottovy give the impression in their comments that Q hasn't always trusted them to advice him to try different things that maybe he didn't do in the past. They feel like he's finally starting to embrace some of the things that they've asked of him and he's starting to buy in. I can also understand how he'd be reluctant to trust them given his past success, in addition to the fact that it's obviously been a process getting him back into his white sox form.

    It's far too early to conclude he's turned things around he's teased us before with good months. That being said this feels a little different it feels like he's throwing the ball as well as he has in a cub uniform, and eating innings like he used to. Hopefully he's motivated the guys 2 years away from free agency and wants to get paid.

  • In reply to kkhiavi:

    quintana's peripherals are better than the 1st 2 years on the cubs(so far) and that brewers start really hurt his stats they would be even better without that game. I've been hard on quintana and the trade in general but if he keeps this up then I can't complain

    I saw the article on the athletic about the change up, I plan on reading it later today

  • In reply to bolla:

    if almora is in cf last night Quintana doesnt give up any runs

  • In reply to bleachercreature:

    Close. I think he catches the double that allowed the first run but I’m not sure on the other ball in the gap as he also let one drop in the same area when he did get in.

  • Well said. Sending you strength TC

  • A series in April is not pivotal when it comes to a team's season record. It doesn't necessarily even mean one team is better than the other if that team sweeps. I get it.

    But on the other hand, yes, this is a big series. A big, big series. The Cubs and Dodgers only play 2 series the entire season. LA has become a rival of sorts, and have established themselves as a perennial NL pennant favorite. So you have to believe the Cubs were up for this series. This is what you play for, to compete against a team of this caliber, especially if you want to establish your team as a legit playoff team.

    So it was awesome to see many of the Cubs core players contribute to the win. Contreras with the biggest hit of the night, a 3-run, 2-out double. Rizzo with the 2-run bomb. Zo with 2 hits and 2 runs scored. Javy doing things only Javy can do. That HR off of the 95 MPH FB from Urias was very impressive.

    But Q was the star. Mike is right. He pitched a marvelous game and is on a wonderful roll. I admit my expections for him this year were not very high. But he has hugely exceeded them so far. This rotation has a chance to be something special this year, not unlike a certain year the Cubs had recently.

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