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Jose Quintana’s Ugly Outing and Pitch Mix, Payroll Competitiveness, and Other Bullets

Analysis and Commentary, Chicago Cubs News

The Brother is down in Austin, Texas right now, so I hope he and his family will avoid the worst of Hurricane Harvey, and of course I also hope that those in the coastal areas will be safe. For now, his family is just seeing a whole lot of rain, but it remains to be seen if it will eventually cause flooding in the coming days. Good vibes being sent out for them, and for everyone in the region.


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  • Jose Quintana was extremely hittable last night, which sometimes happens, but is also sometimes a signal that the command and/or feel for a certain pitch is lacking. Both Joe Maddon and Quintana suggested after the game that the lefty got too fastball-focused, and was not successfully using his curveball enough (ESPN). Sure enough, in the early part of the game when he was getting hit the hardest, he was extremely fastball-heavy (Brooks).
  • Because pitches all work together (tunneling, sequencing, etc.), you don’t want to lean too heavily on pitch values for your data, but I do think it’s interesting to point out: in 2016, Quintana’s fastball was more valuable than it’s ever been in his career, and his curveball was less valuable than it’s ever been. Perhaps, then, he continued to pitch in a certain way this season on that basis, and hitters have adjusted, and his fastball is getting taken advantage of in surprising ways. I’m very much speculating, but with a control/command/feel guy like Quintana, I can imagine that constant adjustment and staying ahead of the hitters and the scouting reports is key. After all, in 2015, the exact opposite was true about his fastball and curveball. It may well be that a significant adjustment to his pitch mix and sequencing is necessary down the stretch.
  • For what it’s worth, the most glaring change to Quintana’s pitch mix since coming to the Cubs has been a much greater reliance on his sinker as his primary fastball, as opposed to his four-seamer. He’s seen a very nice spike in his groundball rate with the Cubs (47.1% with the Cubs, up from 42.9% with the White Sox), and with a better infield defense behind him, I could see the rationale. Unless it is somehow causing an overall spike in his HR/FB rate (which, at core, has really been the primary problem for him with the Cubs), then the Cubs should stick with it. But I do think the relationship to how hittable it makes his other pitches should be considered.

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(Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images)
  • Everything went well in Jon Lester’s bullpen session yesterday, so he’s on target to pitch a simulated game on Monday (Cubs.com). That could make a return to the rotation that next time through a plausibility.
  • A very interesting read at FanGraphs on the correlation between payroll and winning percentage, which had, for many years, become not much of a correlation at all. In the last few years, however, it has returned to being something of a notable correlation. As the article notes, and I would submit, my guess is that it recedes in the coming years as large market teams become uneasy about aggressively exceeding the luxury tax cap (because of the baseball-related penalties), and mid-market teams start spending closer and closer to the luxury tax cap because of the seemingly constant growth of revenue in the sport. In that way, we might see a return to more significant parity in the coming years, as opposed to this season, where none of the division races (except perhaps the NL Central) are all that close.
  • Is it just me, or do the Yankees’ suspensions/penalties here seem really light, given what happened in that game:

  • Over at TYL, the Bears have had one of the best preseason running games, and it’s mostly thanks to the human joystick, rookie Tarik Cohen.
  • Take advantage of the 25% off discount at Fanatics today if there were some regularly-priced things that you’ve been eyeing for a while (Cubs or other sports teams, if you care about that sort of thing).

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  • And, oh yeaaaaah, Anker charging gear is a Deal of the Day at Amazon. What, you don’t also get excited about chargers?

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Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation.