Emma: Jose Quintana’s Struggles Are Dumbfounding — And Could Be Costly

By Chris Emma–

CHICAGO (CBS) — White Sox -left Jose Quintana, usually as steady as they come, was left flustered again by his poor performance. There wasn’t much he could say of this clunker — the latest one.

Tuesday night at Guaranteed Rate Field was supposed to bring a thrilling pitching duel between White Sox ace Quintana and former White Sox ace Chris Sale as he returned with his Red Sox. It proved to be a slugfest, with Quintana leaving in the third inning and showing no signs of his true self.

Quintana allowed seven earned runs and 10 hits in 2 2/3 innings. The White Sox hung seven runs — including six on Sale — and still lost by a half dozen, 13-7 to the Red Sox.

Quintana didn’t give his team a chance to win, and he’s now 2-7 with a 5.60 ERA.

“Tonight, for me, was a little embarrassing with my teammates,” Quintana said.

During his six-year career, Quintana’s worst ERA was a 3.76 mark as a rookie in 2012. He followed that with a 3.51 mark and settled in, a pitcher perennially posting 200 innings and a mid-three ERA. You can set your watch to Quintana.

Quintana has now surrendered 15 earned runs his last two outings, going just seven total innings in that span. Set to be the most coveted man on the trade market, Quintana’s stock is likely dropping as his ERA is rising.

Sure, the White Sox don’t have a premier defense behind Quintana, whose FIP is at 4.27. But the gloves can’t be blamed for the three home runs slugged off Quintana on Tuesday. The Red Sox continuously hit balls to the gap or the bleachers.

Sale took the mound to a warm ovation from White Sox fans. Though it was a complicated relationship between him and franchise, both Sale and the White Sox chose to remember only the good times they shared together.

Everyone in the ballpark, from the diehard fans to White Sox general manager Rick Hahn, could stomach watching Sale pitch knowing that Yoan Moncada is coming and Michael Kopech has looked dominant at times. This December trade gave the Red Sox an ace and the White Sox a start on their rebuild. Quintana is supposed to be the next asset moved for prospects. Fans at Guaranteed Rate Field were rooting for trade value Tuesday night.

The framework of the Sale deal was supposed to set a market for a Quintana trade. Hahn has held his cards tight, waiting for the right package in return. Ideally, contenders would be lining up to add an ace to the rotation. The White Sox could choose from the highest bidder.

Hahn spoke Tuesday morning on the Mully & Hanley Show on 670 The Score and dismissed the notion that he misplayed the hand with Quintana.

“There’s no sort of lost opportunity here,” Hahn said. “You never want to move a guy just for the sake of moving him, especially when the offers are woefully inadequate.

“We don’t have any real concerns about missing a potential opportunity as it was put, and I certainly don’t view it as not selling high. I think that’s just inaccurate based upon what was on the table at that time and the value a long-term controllable, quality talent such as Q.”

That was before Quintana’s latest dismal start. Tuesday didn’t just bring issues with command — he threw 48 strikes on 81 pitches — but everything hit was crushed. Sam Travis hit a double in the second inning at 105.6 miles per hour, then Jackie Bradley Jr. followed with a double at 107.5.

Deven Marrero stepped up and hit a homer 102.5 miles per hour and 389 feet, only to be topped by Mookie Betts, who hit one at 107.6 and 414 feet.

Could Quintana be thinking too much about being traded? Perhaps that’s a possibility, because this is difficult to explain.

“It’s not the stuff,” manager Rick Renteria said. “The stuff’s the same. It’s the command and the execution.”

Added Quintana: “I need to check a couple things I’m doing wrong.”

Quintana and the White Sox must quickly get a handle on what’s working against him. Baseball’s trade deadline is just two months from Wednesday. Scouts were on hand to watch the Quintana pitch Tuesday. Whether it’s the Astros, Yankees or Rangers, it’s hard to imagine anyone being impressed by Quintana’s showing this season.

Maybe pitching coach Don Cooper can figure out why Quintana’s command is off and his strikes are getting ripped. Hopefully somebody has the answer.

“If we can get that back on track, I think Q’s is going to be who Q is, a very effective major league baseball pitcher,” Renteria said.

More important to the White Sox and their new direction, Quintana has to just look like himself again. The consistent arm on a team-friendly deal should be the top trade piece available, returning more prized prospects to an organization rich in young talent.

But the Quintana we’ve come to know is nowhere to be found.

Chris Emma covers the Bears, Chicago’s sports scene and more for CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @CEmma670 and like his Facebook page.

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