MIAMI, FL – Chicago White Sox ace Jose Quintana boasts a career record of 46-46 through his first five seasons in Major League Baseball, and is the owner of a whopping 59 no-decisions during that span, so naturally Quintana isn’t seen as an ace outside of the Chicago area.
While Quintana’s talent is well known in Chicago, the rest of the baseball world has disregarded his ability to man the front-end of any major league rotation this winter. With his name being swirled around in what has been seemingly endless trade rumors and scenarios this winter in the wake of the White Sox rebuilding efforts that have already seen Chris Sale and Adam Eaton traded to the Boston Red Sox, and the Washington Nationals respectively, there has been a major misconception about the 28-year-old southpaw, that being that he is not worthy of an ace type return in a trade.
More importantly that he is not an ace on most major-league clubs if he was traded today, and that’s just not the case. On Friday afternoon Quintana displayed what we here in Chicago already knew to the rest of the baseball world on the national stage.
Pitching for his native Columbian national team in the World Baseball Classic, Quintana dazzled against a star-studded Team USA lineup for as long as the rules of the tournament would allow him to. Against some of the best that Major League Baseball has to offer, a lineup that included nine Major League Baseball All-Star’s, two former Most Valuable Player Award winners, a Rookie of the Year Award winner, and All-Star Game Most Valuable Player, and a National League Championship Series MVP, Jose Quintana erased the “Jose Quintana has average stuff, and isn’t worth top-prospects” theory.
Holding Team USA scoreless through the first five innings, Quintana ended the evening allowing one run, on just one hit, while striking out four and walking one over 5.2 innings pitched, and left the ballgame in line for his unfortunate signature no-decision. Quintana held the United States hit-less into the sixth inning while allowing only one base-runner during the first half of the ballgame, and at one point retiring 13 consecutive United Stated hitters.
Not surprising that Quintana pitched what Hall of Fame pitcher Jon Smoltz called the “greatest performance I’ve seen in the first round of WBC,” only to leave the game in position for a no-decision, much like his first five seasons in Major League Baseball with the Chicago White Sox, where he has been the beneficiary of some painfully poor run support, from some very mediocre teams.
Outside of the early round thriller between the United States and Columbia, the game was one that could have an impact on the trade market for the Chicago White Sox, with Jose Quintana leaving no doubt that he is in fact every bit as good as any front-line starting pitcher in baseball. White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper summed it up perfectly recently saying this about Quintana’s value, “Quintana has been as valuable as Chris Sale, he just goes about it in a less sexy way.”
Quintana has finished in the top ten in WAR among pitchers three times in the last four seasons, posting a WAR above five in two of those three seasons, logged 200 plus innings four times, posted multiple top ten finishes in a myriad of other statistics, and netted an All-Star appearance in 2016, yet Quintana still remains the most underrated pitcher in all of baseball. A hidden ace, overshadowed by Chris Sale for his entire career with the White Sox, until last night that is.
Quintana is set to lead the White Sox rotation for as long as he sticks around on the south side of Chicago, but his exposure on the national stage in this years World Baseball Classic may ensure that he doesn’t don a White Sox uniform beyond July of this year. Last night was Quintana’s coming out party to the rest of the baseball world, and he showed that he is going to be underrated no more, regardless of what team he is pitching for.