With a need for solidifying innings in 2021, the St. Louis Cardinals should pursue Jose Quintana for the rotation.
The St. Louis Cardinals are built as a team for run prevention. With one of the best defenses in the league, almost every pitcher on the team had a FIP higher than their ERA.
For a team with a defense as good as the Cardinals, it makes sense that the team would benefit better than other teams when utilizing contact pitchers. Right now, the Cardinals have Dakota Hudson and his stellar sinker as well as Kwang Hyun Kim who both excel at getting weak contact or specifically groundballs.
Sadly, the team will be without Hudson for 2021 and with Miles Mikolas out for all of 2020 with injury, Carlos Martinez up in the air, and a lot of young inexperienced starting pitching talent, looking at bringing in another veteran to eat innings may be smart. If I were the Cardinals, I would look to Jose Quintana.
Quintana is a free agent now after pitching for the Cubs since 2017. Acquired for Eloy Jimenez, Quintana never really lived up to his price in Chicago. Over his four years with the Cubs, Quintana put together a 3.93 ERA over 439.2 innings. His descriptive stats don’t tell a good story of his time with the Cubs either, but Quintana has been able to eat innings.
Quintana doesn’t throw particularly hard, his four-pitch mix doesn’t exactly get ground balls at an above-average rate, but if it weren’t for some very odd injuries in 2020, he would’ve been a solid pitcher.
Now, if you were to ask fans if they’d rather aim for similar production from Adam Wainwright or Quintana, I would assume fans would pick Quintana. However, I really think Quintana has more in the tank.
At just 31, (32 by opening day 2021), Quintana could come in and eat innings while being extremely cheap.
If I’m honest, I thought I would find more to like when looking through Quintana’s profile, but there isn’t much there. He averages 203 innings per season and was a much better pitcher with the White Sox in the earlier half of his nine-year career.
Between 2013 and 2016, Quintana averaged a 3.35 ERA and 204 innings per year over 129 starts. It may be a pipe dream to imagine he gets anywhere close to that again, but he won’t cost much at all.
I don’t imagine Quintana will sign for close to $10.5M he was owed in 2019 and 2020 and I wouldn’t expect him to be anything more than a fifth starter. He’s a veteran guy who could be a leader in the clubhouse while easing any fears the team has of not being able to cover innings with the starting rotation.
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Back of the rotation arms are more valuable than some may think. For Quintana, there is hope that he gets back to what he was. He stands to benefit from the Cardinals’ defense and ballpark that is quickly becoming a pitcher-friendly park.