Four days ago, we got our first significant update on the progress of injured Cubs starter Jose Quintana (thumb), who threw a 28-pitch bullpen session on Friday, which went well by all accounts. In fact, it sounded like he was already largely beyond the thumb injury, itself, instead focusing on the business of getting his arm and his pitches into big league shape.
Well, Quintana passed the next checkpoint in his journey earlier today, and already has his next stop in sight:
Lefty José Quintana replicated his normal between-start bullpen routine on Monday. Threw 30 pitches. Next step is a 2-inning sim game on Thursday at the South Bend training site.
— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) August 3, 2020
Had Quintana made a real start on Friday, he would’ve thrown a normal in-between bullpen session today, which is exactly what the Cubs had him do. Normally, his next “start,” as it were, would be Wednesday, but the Cubs have a 2-inning simulated game scheduled for Thursday at South Bend, instead.
From there, it’s still really anybody’s guess. The Cubs may have more simulated games or some live scrimmages in which he can participate, but the goal will be not only stretching him out, but also figuring out exactly how and where he fits in on this roster:
Brett discussed this last time, so I’ll use his words to re-explain:
At that point, it’s possible the Cubs will have a sense of when he could come back, and then also how they want to coordinate his return with the rest of the rotation and the bullpen. I know Quintana has always been a starting pitcher and *IS* a starting pitcher, but it’s not impossible to imagine a scenario where the Cubs’ current five starters are healthy and clicking, and the Cubs think maybe the best impact they could get from Quintana is as a multi-inning guy out of the bullpen – clearly, that’s a need. Throw in the fact that it’s a mucked up season anyway, and Quintana was always at his best when he leaned heavily on just two pitches (four-seamer and curveball), and maybe it just makes sense not to presume he immediately needs to start when he comes back.
Yes, of course it’s possible that Alec Mills would slot back into the bullpen (also a help), but I’m just saying there’s no sense in assuming anything just yet.
As fate would have it, Alec Mills is pitching tonight. And frankly, if he continues to succeed, I wouldn’t be surprised if Brett guesses right on each pitcher’s role moving forward. Of course, for all we know, an entirely different need might pop up in the rotation and this entire conversation becomes moot. So let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves, and just see how this week plays out.