Focused on changeup, Quintana strong in debut

Cubs left-hander tosses 2 scoreless frames in first spring start

March 1st, 2019

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. --  noted early in camp that he wanted to focus on improving his changeup during Spring Training. Plenty of pitchers have cited that exact goal in preseasons past, but the Cubs left-hander practiced what he preached in his Cactus League debut on Friday afternoon.

Over two innings in the Cubs' 10-2 win over the D-backs at Salt River Fields, Quintana snapped off seven changeups out of 29 total pitches. That is a significant spike in the lefty's usage with the offspeed offering, showing that he indeed is trying to test the changeup in a variety of situations during what are essentially game simulations.

"I'm happy when I see how I feel with that changeup in different situations," Quintana said. "I need to use one more pitch. It's hard to pitch with two pitches three rounds with a lineup. And I've got it, so they want to use it more. And I feel good when I have it like I threw the changeup today."

Last season, Quintana featured his changeup 6.8 percent of the time, making it his fourth pitch behind the four-seam fastball (49.7 percent), curveball (24.9) and two-seam fastball (18.6). Per Statcast, opposing hitters hit .310 with a .476 slugging percentage against his changeup -- a jump from the results of 2017 (.208 average and .306 slugging percentage).

While there are sample-size flaws in those statistics -- for example, the two homers Quintana allowed via the changeup in June last year inflating the overall numbers -- it nonetheless is an area the lefty wants to shore up. Quintana went from throwing his changeup 9 percent of the time in April last year to only using it sparingly by September (4.5 percent during that month).

Against the D-backs, Quintana generated one swing and miss and had no balls put in play on the changeup. He tested it three times as a first pitch, three times in a 1-1 count and once with an 0-1 pitch.

"This offseason, I focused on that," Quintana said. "It's a huge pitch for me. Getting confidence is the first thing."

Worth noting

• Righty Carl Edwards Jr. made his Cactus League debut on Friday with an eight-pitch outing that featured one strikeout. It was the first look at Edwards' revamped delivery, which includes a hesitation move before driving forward. Cubs relievers Steve Cishek and Pedro Strop are penciled in to make their spring debuts on Saturday and Wednesday, respectively.

• Right-hander Tyler Chatwood came out of the bullpen on Friday, but he was stretched out to three innings. The starter allowed three hits, but did not allow any damage. Over a 45-pitch, 30-strike performance, Chatwood had three strikeouts, three groundouts, three flyouts and no walks issued.

• Left-hander Mike Montgomery, who was slowed at the outset of Spring Training due to shoulder stiffness, threw off the mound in a batting-practice session on Friday morning. Montgomery threw 20 pitches without any issues. He will likely complete one more BP workout prior to transitioning to Cactus League games.

• Manager Joe Maddon will host the fifth annual Respect Bald fundraiser at 12 p.m. CT on Saturday at the Cubs' complex in Mesa, Ariz. This year, a select number of fans can participate by donating $100 to have their heads shaved, alongside Maddon, players, coaches and staffers. Cubs Charities will donate net proceeds to Maddon's Respect 90 Foundation in support of pediatric cancer research and programs. For more info, visit

• Cubs pitching prospect Adbert Alzolay (No. 4 on MLB Pipeline's Top 30 Cubs prospects list) was cleared Friday to resume throwing. Alzolay dealt with inflammation in his right side prior to arriving at camp this spring and was put on a delayed throwing program.

Up next

Left-hander Jon Lester is slated to start for the Cubs on Saturday, when Chicago hosts the Brewers in a 2:05 p.m. CT National League Central clash at Sloan Park. Lester logged two scoreless innings with three strikeouts in his Cactus League debut against the Padres on Monday.