Jose Quintana won’t start the season in the Cubs’ rotation, and we’ve been figuring it would be a little while before he could debut after surgery on a sliced thumb. But how long is a little while?
We still don’t have a precise timeline on Quintana’s return, but we’re getting some hints:
Quintana probably a week to 10 days away from bullpen session
— Mark Gonzales (@MDGonzales) July 20, 2020
Hottovy: Quintana has built up to 90 feet in flat-ground catch. Bullpen session could be a week to 10 days away, with no setbacks. Said Q could almost be like a Trade Deadline pickup once again this year.
— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) July 20, 2020
To be sure, Cubs pitching coach Tommy Hottovy likely didn’t mean Quintana is *literally* expected to return around the August 31 Trade Deadline. Instead, I’m sure he was just saying it’s like adding an arm to your rotation at some point mid-ish season, not unlike the trade that brought him to the Cubs a few years ago.
Let’s assume there are no setbacks or issues. If Quintana is throwing bullpens in 10 days (July 30), he could be game-ready from there within two to three weeks, so you’d be talking about mid-to-late August. How he gears up is an open question – just live BP at Wrigley Field with teammates? A trip to South Bend to create some real game situations? Will that definitely help him be ready for real competition?
Lots of questions. And I didn’t even ask the big one: will the injury to his thumb impact his grip, his release, etc.?
I remain of the mind that you’ve basically got to assume that Quintana is not going to be a major starting contributor this year, and root for Alec Mills to break out (and the rotation to otherwise stay healthy). If Quintana returns in August and it’s like nothing happened? Well great. You get maybe seven or eight starts from a very well-rested, very-highly-motivated Quintana.