Cubs’ Jose Quintana tired of the .500 life: ‘I want more wins. This is my year’
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MESA, Ariz. — Another 11-victory season, like the one he had in 2017, isn’t going to cut it for Cubs left-hander Jose Quintana. Thirteen victories, which would match his career high set in 2016 with the White Sox, won’t do, either.
The whole .500-ish lifestyle for Quintana — career record: 57-57 — has gotten really old.
‘‘I want more wins,’’ he said Monday at Sloan Park after throwing five innings in a simulated game against Cubs minor-leaguers. ‘‘I think this is my year. This is our year.’’
It’s basically a two-step approach for Quintana, 29, as he enters his seventh big-league season. Step 1 is to continue doing what he has done throughout his career. Step 2 is to bask in the run support provided by an offense that actually can push runners across the plate.
That is, assuming the Cubs keep hitting for him better than the Sox did.
Only a handful of major-league pitchers received less run support than Quintana did during his time on the South Side. In nearly two-thirds of his starts with the Sox — he made 169 in all — the Sox scored twice, once or not at all while he was in the game. Is it any wonder he came to the Cubs last July with a 50-54 record that belied the excellence of his overall numbers?
The beginnings of his two ‘‘seasons’’ in 2017 told the tale. Through four starts in April, Quintana had worked 23 1/3 innings and seen his record sink to 0-4; the Sox had scored a pathetic two runs total for him. Compare that with his first four starts with the Cubs: 24 innings, 13 runs of support and a 2-1 record on the way to a post-trade mark of 7-3.
‘‘We’ve got a really good team here, and I saw that support the second half when I played here,’’ Quintana said. ‘‘It’s really exciting when you see that. . . . We have really, really good hitters, so I hope to get that support all [this] season and win more games for the team.’’
Boosted significantly during his 14-start stint with the Cubs, Quintana received 107 runs of support last season; his previous career high was 93. The Sox just never seemed to hit for him.
Chris Sale, for example, had it far better. In 2014-16, Sale threw 609 1/3 innings and received 310 runs of support; Quintana threw 614 2/3 innings and received only 268 runs of support.
Quintana worked on some little things Monday, primarily his changeup against left-handed hitters and fastballs in against right-handers. After his outing, he had nothing but positive things to say about the way he’s progressing through camp, the experience of being with the Cubs from the start of the season, the enjoyment of getting to know new rotation mates Yu Darvish and Tyler Chatwood and what he expects will be the sort of run support he hasn’t seen before.
The Cubs scored 118, 150 and 113 runs for Jake Arrieta the last three seasons. They scored 121 for Jon Lester in 2016 and again in 2017. Quintana is looking at what might be the difference between that old .500-ish lifestyle and something more propitious.
‘‘I’ve got the goal to [have] more wins and just be ready,’’ he said. ‘‘Get ready every five days and have a really good chance to win games. And I know the hitters will make the best for us every single game. We can hit, so we’re good.’’
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