May 30 was an ugly day for Jose Quintana, and the White Sox. That day, Chicago’s would-be ace coughed up seven runs on 10 hits (including three home runs) in 2 2/3 innings against the Red Sox. That debacle raised his ERA for the season to 5.60, an unsightly and wildly out-of-character mark for a pitcher who until this year ranked as one of the most consistently stingy and durable starters in the league.
As excellent pitching analyst Nick Pollack of PitcherList.com noted, Quintana had lost as much as six inches of vertical drop on his formerly excellent curveball. That setback, combined with an overall lack of command within the strike zone, fueled his sudden and substantial problems.
Everything’s improved substantially since then. In his past six starts, the 28-year-old lefty has fired 34 2/3 innings, striking out 35 batters, walking 14, and allowing just 27 hits and three home runs, good for a 2.33 ERA during that span. That’s even counting Sunday’s shaky outing, in which he lasted just 4 1/3 innings and allowed five runs (three earned), thanks in part to horrific defense behind him.
After hanging around the edges of the AL wild-card race for a while, the White Sox now sit in last place, as many expected. Armed with club options through 2020, striking out a batter an inning, and on pace to potentially log his fifth straight season of 200 or more innings pitched, Quintana could offer the best combination of skill, team control, and availability among all starting pitchers as the trade deadline approaches. The rebound happened just in time.