Panic deepens as Jose Quintana's struggles return in full force

Tony Andracki
NBC Sports Chicago

As Cubs fans anxiously await Tuesday night's game in Atlanta to see how Yu Darvish responds after a stint on the disabled list, they were "gifted" even more anxiety and stress watching Jose Quintana pitch in Monday's rain makeup between the two teams at Wrigley Field.

Quintana couldn't make it out of the fifth inning, surrendering 6 runs on 3 homers, 3 walks and 9 hits in 4.2 innings. That raised his season ERA to 5.23 and WHIP to 1.57.

This after he had actually seemed to be turning a corner the last three times out, allowing only 1 earned run in the last 17 innings despite still working around control issues (7 walks in that span).

Given the White Sox just left Wrigley Field, Quintana's rough start became a hot-button topic with Cubs fans as they watch Eloy Jimenez absolutely tear up the minor leagues for the team on the other side of town:

Those questions are even being asked on the other side of town.

Obviously that doesn't include everybody in the Cubs fanbase, but Quintana will always be linked to Jimenez and flamethrowing right-hander Dylan Cease.

These comments will only become more frequent the closer Jimenez and Cease get to success in the big leagues.

But there's also nothing the Cubs can do about that now or ever. They made this trade and it was a very good one at the time and can't possibly be judged less than a year into the deal.

The 2017 Cubs received a major jolt the second Quintana walked through the door after the All-Star Break and it helped lead the charge toward the top of the National League Central and a third straight trip into the NLCS. Theo Epstein and Joe Maddon have both said several times they don't believe last year's team would've reached that level of success without the Quintana trade.

Quintana is still only 29 years old and has team options for the 2019 and 2020 seasons at a very affordable rate. 

This is a guy who posted a career 3.53 ERA and 1.24 WHIP in his career prior to 2018. Chances are very high he will figure it out at some point and get back to being a top-of-the-rotation starter for the Cubs.

However, in the first 8 starts of 2018, it's not hard to empathize with the Cubs fans that are panicking. Eight starts is hardly a small sample size, especially when Quintana is averaging merely 5 innings per outing.

He's walking batters at a rate nearly double his career mark and has admitted he's falling behind hitters way too often and is something he's been working hard to correct. He did throw a first-pitch strike to 20 of the 28 batters he faced Monday, a slight tick up in percentage from his past two starts (15-of-24 and 11-of-20).

The main issue Monday was actually how hard Quintana was getting hit when he did throw pitches in the zone. The Braves recorded 11 different batted balls of 95+ mph exit velocity off Quintana, including 8 balls hit 101.9 mph or higher.

But hey, at least Quintana didn't walk a batter after the first inning, so maybe that's a silver lining to build on for the next start?

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