With the exception of one start at Wrigley Field in mid-August, Jose Quintana has absolutely owned the Brewers this season, and last night was no exception. Don’t believe me? Just take a quick look at his final line from those starts.
April 8: 6.0 IP, 3H, 0ER, 2BB, 6Ks
April 28: 7.0 IP, 2H, 0ER, 1BB, 7Ks
June 11: 6.0 IP, 4H, 2ER, 2BB, 3Ks
August 14: 5.0 IP, 6H, 5ER, 1BB, 5Ks
September 5: 6.2 IP, 5H, 2ER, 2BB, 5Ks
With the exception of his start in August, Quintana has gone at least 6.0 innings against the Brewers in four other starts, never allowing more than 2 earned runs or 2 walks. Indeed, that April 28th start was his best of the season. And last night’s effort was his 8th best start by game score this year. Not bad.
Here are the highlights:
Now, if you actually watched that video (or the game last night), you may have noticed a whole lot of swings and misses. Quintana might’ve ended up with only 5 strikeouts by the time he was removed from the game, but it wasn’t for a lack of whiffs. Altogether, Q generated 14 whiffs against Milwaukee, good for an 11.5% swinging strike rate, well above his 7.8% season average. He’s beat that just three times in a single game this whole season.
But unlike usual, it wasn’t his changeup or curveball generating wind, it was his four-seamer. Yep, the good-old, trustworthy heater generated an impressive 9 swinging strikes last night, more than any other pitch. But what made his fastball nearly double from a 7.4% whiff rate (2018 average before last night) to 14.5%? Well, it’s simply: Just a little extra mustard.
Quintana must’ve been feeling the heat of the series last night, because he was throwing harder than ever. For the evening, he averaged 93.0 MPH and topped out at 94.8. That’s about as hard as you’ll ever see him throw:
Even Joe Maddon conceded that it was his best fastball of the year. And why not? We might like to think these guys are just robots, assets, numbers on a field, but they’re humans. They’re competitors. And when you’re in a heated divisional race at the end of the season on the road? What better time to reach back for a little more gas, right? What an awesome performance from Quintana.
Of course, swings and misses wasn’t the only way he found success last night. Quintana also forced a ton of contact into the ground (52.6%) and allowed very few fly balls (26.3%). He didn’t however, get nearly enough soft contact and did allow way too much hard contact, but with all the whiffs and grounders, he was able to work around that pretty easily.
All in all, it was an excellent performance for Quintana, who now has a 2.38 ERA and 2.75 FIP over his last four starts. If he was going to pick one stretch of the year to turn things around, now is the right time.