Quintana leading Cubs' stellar rotation run

April 24th, 2019

CHICAGO -- The Cubs are hoping the newest version of starter stays around for a while, and his performance in Tuesday’s 7-2 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers shows his recent success is no accident.

The Cubs offense ambushed Dodgers starter Kenta Maeda in the first inning, sending nine men to the plate, highlighted by ’ two-out, three-run double down the left-field line that put the Cubs ahead, 3-0. They added another run in the inning and never trailed in the game.

“We got the hits when it was needed early and we were able to hold on,” said Cubs manager Joe Maddon, whose club moved to 11-10, above .500 for the first time since winning on Opening Day. “You can never take anything for granted with their particular group. Not just because the group that’s playing, but because of what they can do off the bench.”

The Cubs came into Tuesday night’s game hitting just .234 with two outs on the season, but were able to drive in four clutch runs with two outs, leading the way for Quintana to do his thing.

Quintana dominates again

When Quintana made his second start of the season against the Milwaukee Brewers on April 5, he got hit hard, allowing eight runs on eight hits and had few answers for hitters.

Since then, he’s gone 3-0 with a 0.86 ERA and has been a revelation for the Cubs’ starting rotation, which has gone 7-2 with a 1.39 ERA as a staff in the last 10 games.

“I feel great. I’ve been throwing the ball well the last few starts and all of my stuff is working really good,” Quintana said. “That’s a pretty good team. I just tried to hit my spots. We know how dangerous they are when you pitch from behind.”

Quintana shut down a Dodgers team that came into the game leading the National League in runs scored, locating his fastball, curveball and changeup wherever he wanted to and not allowing Los Angeles’ hitters to dictate the at-bats.

“I think the rhythm he has on the mound, he got it three starts ago. He’s been consistent in the zone,” Contreras said. “This year he has been really good. He’s been using all his pitches, which he didn’t do last year very often. I think he has his mind in the right place and I think we’re in a good space.”

Quintana finished his outing allowing two runs over seven innings. The left-hander struck out seven and walked two. Tuesday’s victory was his third consecutive win and quality start, the first time he’s had such a stretch since July 4 -July 22, 2018.

“He was once again on top of his game. Great focus. Great focus. Kept coming back with good pitches. We talked about it also, the curveball was very pertinent tonight. He had some good changeups to go with the fastball,” Maddon said. “He’s pitching. He’s absolutely pitching. In the past I thought he would just rely on his fastball; he’s becoming a pitch-maker with all his stuff. He’s done a nice job with it.”

The Cubs have now won six of their last seven games and have seen their pitching, which was a cause for concern just a few weeks ago, turn the corner.

Quintana’s run of early success combined with consistency within the rest of the rotation could get the team on a roll entering the end of April. With a potential return from the injured list for Jon Lester on Thursday, the thought is not inconceivable.