Quintana Pitching Like an Ace Despite Losses

quintana1On Saturday, the White Sox dropped a game to the struggling Royals. It was a 4-1 loss as Danny Duffy and the Kansas City bullpen dominated the Sox. They were held to five hits, no extra base hits, one run in the ninth inning and struck out 13 times.

The Southsiders have had trouble at the plate all season. They are 22nd in runs scored, 22nd in runs per game, 21st in batting average, 22nd in total hits, 23rd in extra base hits and 25th in home runs, even with MLB home run leader Todd Frazier.

If the bats aren’t going, the pitching has to make sure they can keep any lead they get, and they have for the most part.

The Sox have pitched well enough to keep the team hovering around .500, even with a horrific month of May. The pitching is a big reason why the White Sox had great success to begin the season. It has slowed down a little, but they have still managed to be fourth in team ERA in the AL, with the third least earned runs, the second least runs scored and the most shutouts. They have also allowed the third least doubles and total bases and the least home runs in the AL.

Chris Sale has played a major role in the White Sox pitching success. He began the season 9-0, winning his first nine starts in a row. He pitched three complete games and had a 1.58 ERA in that span.

Sale has been one of the best pitchers, if not the best pitcher, in the AL this season. His new approach to generate outs in a variety of ways, as opposed to just striking out every batter like he used to, has produced easier outs and has caused him to throw fewer pitches. Sale throwing fewer pitches means more innings pitched and longer starts.

The Sox won Sale’s start 7-5 on Friday night, but the win came on the heels of two losing series.

It’s starting to look like another season of misery for the Boys in Black, but Saturday’s loss is all too familiar for Don Cooper’s number two, Jose Quintana.

Quintana has been best known for his run support, or lack there of. His 53 no-decisions since 2012 are the most in all of baseball. His 17 no-decisions in 2013 are an American League single-season record.

This season his no-decisions are turning into losses. He is currently on a six-game losing streak, but his stats suggest that he is actually one of the American League’s elite. Quintana is not an overpowering pitcher. He will not go above 94 on his fastball, but his movement and control is top notch.

Quintana’s K/BB is fourth in the American League at 4.76. His BB/9 is sixth in the AL at 1.807. He also finished fifth in the AL last season with a BB/9 of 1.919.

Another facet of Quintana’s game is his ability to keep the long ball a rare occurrence. He is fifth in the majors in HR/9 and he has finished in the top four in HR/9 in each of the last two seasons. He has allowed five home runs this season, which is third among AL pitchers with at least 60 IP.

The superb control has allowed Quintana to have great success on the mound. This season, he has 10 quality starts and a quality start percentage of 77 percent, which are both better than staff ace Sale, who has nine quality starts and a quality start percentage of 69 percent. Quintana also has a WAR of 2.5, which is sixth among AL pitchers and only six points off Cleveland’s Danny Salazar’s WAR of 3.1 that leads AL pitchers. Sale’s WAR is also 2.5. Quintana has only allowed 25 earned runs all season, which is the seventh least among AL pitchers with 60 IP. Quintana’s WHIP currently stands eighth in the AL at 1.09, and Quintana’s ERA is still among the top of the AL at 2.66. He led the AL in ERA through he is first 11 starts but now ranks fifth.

If you think those numbers are a sample sized serving, he has started 13 games and has pitched 84.2 innings this season. His 13 starts are third most in the AL and his 84.2 innings pitched are seventh most in the AL.

Numbers suggest that the Sox should win almost every game when he’s on the bump, but for some reason the White Sox just cannot score runs for him.

Quintana has the second lowest run support average in the AL at 2.69. His 2.8 runs of support per game is the lowest in the Sox rotation.

A tough loss is a loss in a quality start and Quintana is tied for the most tough losses in MLB with four. Last season, Quintana finished with the most tough losses in the AL and the third most in MLB.

Quintana last six starts:
June 11 vs. Royals: 8.0 IP, 3 ER, 0 BB, 10 K – Sox lost 4-1
June 5 vs. Tigers: 4.2 IP, 5 ER, 3 BB, 4 K, Sox lost 5-2
May 30 vs. Mets: 7.0 IP, 1 ER, 2 BB, 7 K – Sox lost 1-0
May 25 vs. Cleveland: 6.0 IP, 3 ER, 1 BB, 8 K – Sox lost 4-3
May 20 vs. Royals: 6.1 IP, 4 ER, 0 BB, 5 K – Sox lost 4-1
May 15 vs. Yankees: 7.0 IP, 2 ER, 0 BB, 5 K – Sox lost 2-1

Quintana was credited with the loss in all six games.

Baseball’s best pitchers are unfortunately noted for their wins and losses. The last five AL Cy Young award winners have led the AL in wins. Quintana’s numbers are on par with a few of baseball’s pitching royalty but his record does not reflect that is he is one of the AL’s best.

Sale is undoubtedly the number one pitcher in the rotation, but not only could Quintana be an ace on another pitching staff, but he would probably have the dominant record he deserves.

For comparison, here is the AL’s best ace’s numbers next to Quintana’s stats numbers through their first 13 starts of 2016.

Sale: 13 starts, 2.87 ERA, 91.0 IP, 73 H, 30 R, 29 ER, 10 HR, 19 BB, 86 SO, 4.53 K/BB
Quintana: 13 starts, 2.66 ERA, 84.2 IP, 75 H, 26 R, 25 ER, 5 HR, 17 BB, 81 SO, 4.76 K/BB