José Quintana feels he has something to prove to Cubs fans in 2020
MESA, Ariz. – Entering the final year of his contract with the Cubs, José Quintana is a man on a mission.
He wants to show Cubs fans the real José Quintana and prove why Theo Epstein’s front office paid a premium to acquire him from the White Sox back in 2017.
And in order to do all that, Quintana knows he has to get back to pitching with conviction and confidence, particularly with his changeup.
“I want to show everybody the reason why I’m here and I want to help this team,” Quintana said Wednesday. “I want to play the game like I’ve been doing through my career and that’s what I want to do every five days I go to the mound. I’m happy to be back and I want everybody to be happy they traded me here.”
Like new manager David Ross, Quintana missed a couple days of camp with the flu earlier this week. He was originally slated to make his first appearance in a spring training game Friday, but now will have his scheduled pushed back.
Quintana threw a bullpen Wednesday and then will throw live batting practice to Cubs hitters Friday before getting on a mound in a game early next week.
He came into camp feeling great and said he’s actually seen a bit of an uptick in velocity so far. But his main focus has been on improving his changeup and becoming more of a three-pitch pitcher. He felt he got too caught up in his standard fastball-curveball sequence last year and thus became too predictable.
“Most of the time, I don’t feel my changeup well and when I throw that pitch, I don’t get swings,” Quintana said. “I need to throw other pitches. I’ve been using just two pitches most of the time. When I’m locked in, I use all my stuff and the sequences get better.”
Quintana and the Cubs emphasized his changeup usage in the middle of last season, too, but he got away from that toward the end of the year. Over the winter, he worked with pitching coach Tommy Hottovy to change the grip on the changeup from a two-seam grip to a four-seam one that more closely resembles his fastball.
“I think the best chance is if I throw that pitch with confidence,” Quintana said. “That’s all I need and that’s what I’ve been doing. I want to throw it in the game and I feel great when I’ve been throwing it so far. There’s plenty of time to get it ready for the season.”
The Cubs exercised Quintana’s $10.5 million option over the winter and he’ll enter his third full season with the team after being traded for Eloy Jiménez and Dylan Cease in July 2017.
Over his 78-game career with the Cubs, Quintana has a 4.23 ERA compared to the 3.51 mark he posted in his six seasons with the White Sox.
He was on a roll in the middle of last season, going 8-1 with a 3.08 ERA over an 11-start stretch from June to August. But he had a tough go of it in September, posting an 11.09 ERA in five outings.
Quintana hopes to stay in Chicago beyond this season, but also understands such matters are out of his control and if this is his final season with the Cubs, he wants to go out on a high note.
“First I want to be happy with what I’m doing on the mound and get my career in a good spot and show fans at Wrigley how I can be,” he said. “I want everybody to feel excited when I’m on the mound. That’s the reason we’re here. To be a part of it is awesome and that’s what I want to do.
“Our job I think is the best job we’re gonna get and I’m excited to show that. Let’s do it. This year, everybody’s gonna be excited. We know it’s a new year, but we need to do really good things on the field.”
Featured image: Scott Changnon