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José Quintana impresses in Giants debut



© Raj Mehta | 2021 Aug 19

José Quintana hasn’t been an All-Star since 2016, but you couldn’t tell that from the way he looked Tuesday night against Milwaukee in Oracle Park.

In 3.1 innings of one-hit work during his Giants (84-48) debut, the 32-year-old struck out six Brewers. He recorded a 42% whiff rate, including 57% on his curveball alone. The velocity on each of his pitches was slightly up, and he threw 35 of his 48 pitches for strikes.  

If Quintana is to experience a change-of-scenery boost, this could just be the start. 

“That looks like the version of Quintana that I’ve seen when he’s been really good over the years,” Giants manager Gabe Kapler said postgame.

The Giants claimed Quintana off waivers Monday. Since SF has the best record in baseball, they had the lowest preference of any team to pick the former All-Star up. Any team could’ve had him. When nobody wanted Quintana, the Giants scooped him up. 

There was a reason Quintana was available in the first place. With the Angels this year, the veteran posted a 6.75 ERA. That’s a far cry from starting his career off with five straight sub-4.00 ERA seasons. 

He pitched in both a starting and reliever role with Los Angeles, showcasing a balanced arsenal of pitches and recording a career-high 12.3 strikeouts per nine innings. Kapler said he plans to introduce him out of the bullpen, but also realizes the depth of his experience as a starter could make him an option in a pinch, too. 

With the Giants, Quintana isn’t expected to change his approach drastically — at least right away. Kapler said “we want to get a good look at him.” 

They sure did on Tuesday. Quintana was a lone bright spot in an otherwise uneventful 6-2 loss. The offense struggled for a third straight game. Quintana relieved starter Johnny Cueto — who was scratched before Monday’s game due to cold and flu-like symptoms — with two outs in the fourth inning. He induced a groundout to power-hitter Rowdy Tellez, stranding inherited runners on first and third. 

From there, Quintana went to work. After walking Jace Peterson to lead off the fifth, he struck out Lorenzo Cain and pitcher Brandon Woodruff looking. Cain’s punchout pitch was a perfectly placed changeup on the outside edge. 

The next inning, Quintana fanned 2018 National League MVP Christian Yelich on three pitches — two fastballs and an 0-2 curve — and Avisaíl García. 

“He was able to execute his breaking ball,” Kapler said. “His fastball had good life and good carry. He was throwing a lot of strikes. And as he has all year long, he missed bats.” 

Quintana returned for the seventh and continued to mow down Brewers. He mixed five curveballs into a seven-pitch at-bat for Tellez, which ended in another strikeout. Jace Peterson, the next hitter, retreated to the visitor’s dugout after whiffing on a 1-2 curve.

Tellez represented Quintana’s sixth strikeout in 3.1 innings. That’s more than Quintana’s recorded in all six of his August appearances with the Angels combined. 

“Thank God he pitched really well,” Cueto said of Quintana. “I’ve seen him pitch before, I know he’s a good pitcher. So let’s just hope that he continues doing the same thing here for us.”