Hey, there. Here’s the latest in my series of reports on individual Cardinal players for 2022. I’ve completed the position players and are progressing through the pitching staff, having covered Adam Wainwright, Jack Flaherty, Miles Mikolas and Steven Matz.
NEXT UP: Lefty starting pitcher Jose Quinata.
OVERVIEW: Along with fellow lefty Jordan Montgomery, Quintana was acquired at the Aug. 2 trade deadline and did an excellent job of stabilizing a Cards rotation that was teetering because of injuries and subpar performances. I’ll get into Montgomery’s season later this week, but the Cardinals went 9-3 in Quintana’s starts. Statistically, Quinata was one of the NL’s top starting pitchers over the final two months of the regular season. “Q” pitched so well that manager Oli Marmol gave him the start for Game 1 of the NL’s postseason wild-card series. And Quintana was brilliant, shutting out the Philadelphia Phillies for 5 and ⅓ innings of two-hit pitching. The Cardinals and Quintana expressed a desire to continue the relationship, but Quintana got to the free-agent market without much interest from St. Louis. He signed a two-year deal with the Mets for $26 million.
QUINTANA ON CUE: He was very, very good as a St. Louis Cardinal. We could even use the word “great” and it wouldn’t be a stretch. Not much of a stretch, anyway. In 12 regular-season starts for the Cardinals, Quintana twirled 62.2 innings and was consistently effective, finishing with a 2.01 ERA and a 2.60 fielding-independent ERA. As a Cardinal, opponents batted .238 against Quintana with a .290 OBP and .295 slugging percentage. And Quintana gave up only one home run to the 247 batters that he faced.
CHANGES: After joining the Cardinals, Quintana worked with pitching coach Mike Maddux and catcher Yadier Molina to update his pitch selection. He significantly reduced his usage of the changeup, went with more sinkers and made adjustments with his four-seam fastball. The revisions led to an improved ground-ball rate (to 49 percent), fewer fly balls, and less damage in the air. The remix made Quintana more capable against RH batters. As a Pittsburgh Pirate in 2022, Quinata allowed a .262 average, .315 OBP and .397 slug when facing RH hitters. As a Cardinal, he limited RH batters to a .236 average, .286 OBP and .287 slug. That’s a 110-point drop in slugging percentage against him by right-handed swinging opponents.
ONE OF THE BEST STARTERS IN THE NL: After coming to St. Louis, Quintana had 1.8 WAR (the FanGraphs version) which ranked 5th in the NL over the final two months. The only NL starters with a better WAR over that time were Zac Gallen, Aaron Nola, Blake Snell and Jacob deGrom. During the final two months Quintana’s WAR was higher than many notable NL starting pitchers including Sandy Alcantara, Corbin Burnes, Brandon Woodruff, Julio Urias, Max Scherzer and Pablo Lopez.
Including his 20 starts and 103 innings for the Pirates, Quintana finished 9th in among NL starters with a 4.0 fWAR, which was superior to that of Adam Wainwright (2.8), Miles Mikolas (2.8) and many other prominent starting pitchers on the circuit.
ST. LOUIS PITCHER OF THE YEAR? In my opinion, yes. No Cardinal starter pitched better than Quintana in 2022. Including his postseason assignment, Quintana had a 1.85 ERA in 13 starts for the Cardinals. He allowed no more than one run in eight starts, and never was touched for more than two earned runs in any of his 13 outings for St. Louis and was flicked for one home run in 68 innings. But the Cardinals deemed him expendable. A team that’s been so shaky with its starting pitching and short on rotation depth and is frequently scrambling for starting-pitching help just let Quintana walk to the Mets. The Cardinals are obviously banking on healthy seasons from Steven Matz and Jack Flaherty, and another fountain-of-youth season by Wainwright. We’ll see how their plan works out.
CONCLUSION: Quintana’s grade is an A … and if I wanted to break my “No A+ grade” policy, he’d qualify. I think most of us loved watched him pitch and respected his poise and professionalism. He was a terrific fit with this team. It’s just interesting to me that the Cardinals thought so much of Quintana that they made him their Game 1 starter in the postseason … but didn’t think enough of “Q” to give him a two-year contract to stay – even though they have only one veteran starter under contract beyond 2022. But I’d be negligent in failing to wonder if Quintana, soon to be 34, can come close to repeating his 2022 performance next season and again in 2024. It will be fascinating to see how this all plays out. Are the Cardinals saving dollars to make a run at a No.1 starter who might become available at the trade deadline, or perhaps as a free agent next offseason? If not, then they’ll be reverting to their stubborn way of overrating their own prospects.
Thanks for reading …
Bernie invites you to listen to his opinionated and analytical sports-talk show on 590 The Fan, KFNS-AM. It airs Monday through Thursday from 3-6 p.m. and Friday from 4-6 p.m. You can listen by streaming online or by downloading the show podcast at 590thefan.com or the 590 app.
Follow Bernie on Twitter @miklasz
All stats used here were sourced from FanGraphs, Baseball Reference, Stathead, Bill James Online, Fielding Bible, Baseball Savant, Brooks Baseball Net and Spotrac.
For the last 35 years Bernie Miklasz has entertained, enlightened, and connected with generations of St. Louis sports fans.
While best known for his voice as the lead sports columnist at the Post-Dispatch for 26 years, Bernie has also written for The Athletic, Dallas Morning News and Baltimore News American. Bernie has hosted radio shows in St. Louis, Dallas, Baltimore and Washington D.C.
Bernie, his wife Kirsten and their cats reside in the Skinker-DeBaliviere neighborhood of St. Louis.