The Cubs today announced a surprise starter for tomorrow’s game: Jose Quintana.
Cubs plan to start José Quintana Tuesday in Pittsburgh. They've been trying to get him as stretched out as possible, Ross said.
— Tony Andracki (@TonyAndracki23) September 21, 2020
Less of a traditional “start,” I have to believe this is more like an opener situation, where Quintana will go a couple innings – maybe three if he’s super efficient – and the idea is to make sure he gets innings in. Were he coming out of the bullpen, you might not be able to ensure you get those innings out of him. Remember, having Quintana come back right now is as much about getting his performance tomorrow as it is about evaluating him for the postseason.
That said, the mention of trying to get him as stretched out as possible sure is interesting. It makes you think the Cubs are considering getting creative in the “rotation” heading into the postseason. Since it’s implausible that Quintana could be a six-inning guy any time soon, maybe the Cubs want to make sure he can get up to three+ so that they can do exactly this again in the postseason – have him “start,” and then see what you have from the bullpen from there.
Something else to consider? The Cubs wouldn’t even be mentioning stretching Quintana out unless they felt like he was looking really good in his side sessions this weekend. I mean, it’s all relative to the other arms, but you’re not thinking about trying to get creative with Quintana unless you think he’s your best three+ inning option very soon.
As for the presumed starter for tomorrow, Adbert Alzolay, are the Cubs just deciding not to bring him back up? Or is he still gonna come up and then follow Quintana in the game? Or might he get a quick look here just as a pure reliever? We shall see.