By Bruce Levine-
CHICAGO (CBS) — This season had just not gone well for Cubs pitcher Jose Quintana.
For the previous five years, you could always pencil the left-handed pitcher in with 200 innings and an ERA at about 3.50. He was Mr. Consistency for the White Sox and Mr. Badluck as well. Quintana had more no-decisions thrown than any pitcher in the big leagues since 2012.
Quintana was 4-3 as a Cub with a 4.50 ERA before his start against Pittsburgh on Wednesday evening. Mr.Consistency was anything but consistent with his new ballclub.
The 17-3 blowout for Quintana and company may be a turning point in the season for him as a Cub. Quintana was shaky in the first inning, hitting two batters while allowing two runs. The good news was the breaking ball was moving and he had six strikeouts in two innings.
The line showed a quality start — six innings, four hits and three runs, this along with nine strikeouts and two hit batters.
“I felt pretty good today,” Quintana said.” I made my adjustments and started to hit my spots and get my outs.”
Entering 2017, the trade stories were always hanging over the pitcher’s head. The 28-year-old Colombia native admitted after getting moved to the Cubs in July that the rumors had taken their toll on him.
“I think guys put a little extra pressure on themselves to live up to the moment,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said about his pitcher. “That is just human nature. With him, I think he is still settling into this uniform. He is such a wonderful young man and is so concerned. He wants to do well. I know he is going to be good here for a long period of time.”
Quintana said he felt welcome in the Cub clubhouse from day one.
“I feel comfortable here with all the coaches and teammates,” Quintana said. “Some things were new to me because I had never been (traded). I just try to do my job. Once the game starts, it is the same. You just try to do the job. My job with this team is to help them make the playoffs.”
Indeed, Maddon read the tea leaves correctly.
“The guy keeps getting better game in progress,” Maddon said. “His approach was throwing sharper curveballs for a strike more often. There was more changeup involvement also. The fastball location through the game got better. Outside of the first inning, he pretty much nailed it.
“You can talk about the curveball or the changeup not being there. The fastball location has not been what it had been. That is why we have to help him figure that out. Things like that are very correctable. Sometimes, a guy is trying too hard. It can be as simple as that.”
Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score and CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.