By Bruce Levine —
CHICAGO (CBS) — He has been a big league pitcher for six seasons, but Cubs left-hander Jose Quintana will finally make his first playoff appearance Monday.
It will be a big one, as he takes the ball against Nationals right-hander Max Scherzer in a National League Division Series that’s tied at 1-1. First pitch will be at 3:08 p.m. at Wrigley Field.
It will also be Quintana’s first time facing the Nationals. Only Washington’s Howie Kendrick, Adam Lind and Matt Wieters have ever faced Quintana, who spent his first 5 1/2 big league seasons with the White Sox.
“This is a huge game for me,” Quintana said. “I believe it is a huge opportunity as well. This will be my first time in the playoffs. Although it is my first time, nothing is going to change for me. I just need to do the same job and prepare the same way.”
Cubs manager Joe Maddon doesn’t worry that the stage will be too big for Quintana, pointing out that he passed the test of throwing in a pressure-packed playoff race. Maddon cited Quintana’s three-hit shutout of the Brewers on Sept. 24 as an example.
“I don’t want to always go back in time, but that four-game series was really pertinent,” Maddon said. “Win two and then lose a tough one. Then here comes Quintana. God, he had a great look. My only concern is that he’s over-amped a little bit too much.”
From the time he was acquired by the Cubs in mid-July, the 28-year-old Quintana expressed his desire about pitching for the Cubs in the postseason to Maddon.
“When he first came over, that is the first thing he talked to me about was getting to the playoffs — getting there and pitching,” Maddon said. “So listen, there is no issue. My only concern — he is going to try too hard.”
Quintana was 7-3 with a 3.74 ERA in 14 starts with the Cubs. He also addressed the concern about being “over-amped.”
“Well, like I have said before, I will just try and stay focused,” Quintana said. “I will try and control my emotions every time. I think that will be a huge part for me. Especially because it is my first time here.”
Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score and CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.