Tonight’s game marked the first night of Players Weekend with MLB showing its lighter side by allowing its athletes to choose a nickname to put on the back of their jerseys, following the most famously successful sports business model of all time: the XFL. Unfortunately, no one on the Cubs chose “He Hate Me,” presumably because they weren’t playing a game broadcast by Steve Blass.
It’s also a bit of a shame that no one thought to wear a jersey bearing the name of one of Philadelphia’s arch enemies like “Drago,” “Joe Carter,” or “Civility.”
For example, Jose Quintana took the field with a jersey that simply read “Q.” Which is an appropriate nickname because he delivers dozens of devices to make your head explode.
What You Need to Know: The Cubs’ new hats looked nice.
Next Level: We need to talk about Jose Quintana.
As you know, his performance since arriving on the North Side has been…to be charitable…erratic. We’re still dealing with an incredibly small sample here but so far, he has amassed a 4.50 ERA during his time with the Cubs. Unfortunately, there are five weeks to go in the season so the only thing that currently matters is that small sample size.
And if you remove his tease of a first start in Baltimore, that number jumps to 5.18. With 17 walks and seven home runs in 39 innings. Tonight’s 5 IP 9 H 6 ER 4 BB 7 K line against a lineup featuring Freddy Galvis, Tommy Joseph, and the ghost of Granny Hamner didn’t help matters any.
You can have a lot of reactions to this. You can be disappointed, upset, worried, impatient, and even a bit disgusted. The only thing you can’t be is surprised.
From the beginning of the year until his last start with the White Sox, Quintana put up an uninspiring 4.49 ERA and a less than encouraging 3.97 FIP. Even during his supposed renaissance in June, he still managed to walk 12 batters in 30.1 innings. Quintana was mediocre when the Cubs acquired him, and he’s been mediocre since.
To put it another way: when the Cubs traded for Chris Volstad, you couldn’t be surprised when he turned out to be Chris Volstad. At this point, a better Players Weekend jersey for Quintana might be “E-Jax Redux” or “Banks (Willie).” And he’s got a little over a month to correct that.
This is a lot of gloom and doom, especially in the wake of getting drubbed by the Phillies. So here’s a bit of good news: the larger sample size of Quintana’s track record certainly suggests that this year is the aberration and not the new normal. This is still the same pitcher who put up WARPs of 3.5, 2.7, and 4.1 in the past three years on the South Side. Maybe someone should convince Len Kasper to spend more time talking about Yaz.
Let’s hope that’s the case. Because I really don’t want Quintana’s new nickname to be “Eloy’s Broglio.”
Top Play (WPA): DID YOU KNOW the Cubs actually led in this game? It’s true! Kyle Schwarber jumped on a 1-0 offering from Jared Eickhoff and crushed a solo homer into the second deck in right field for quick first inning run (+.102).
Eickhoff’s Players Weekend jersey was “Eick.” So this at bat made sense as Schwarber always struck me as more of an Adlai Stevenson man.
Bottom Play (WPA): There is literally only one batter in the Phillies lineup that you don’t want to let beat you. And I mean that in the old fashioned definition of “literally” from way back when it used to mean “literally.”
Rhys Hoskins has been a two week version of Cody Bellinger for the Phillies, as he came into tonight’s game with eight home runs in his first 15 games and a first name that would make even Jhonny Peralta demand he be suspended for illegal use of H.
While nursing that 1-0 lead in the first, Quintana got two outs sandwiched around a Galvis single. His strategy for retiring Hoskins was…novel. Perhaps the Cubs had a scouting report reading: “If Hoskins is the go ahead run, be sure to nibble and fall behind 2-1 and then throw him a meatball right down the middle.”
SPOILER ALERT: Hoskins now has nine home runs in his first 16 games. (-.189)
Up Next: Let’s not make this weekend the 2017 version of that dumbass 2015 series with the Phillies, OK? Tomorrow night, Kyle Hendricks takes the hill. If his jersey reads anything other than “deGrasse Tyson,” Players Weekend should be canceled. He’ll be opposed by Ben Lively who should be wearing a uniform with the same name as the fellow on first base for Bud Abbott’s team.
Lead photo courtesy John Geliebter—USA Today Sports