CHICAGO – White Sox starting pitcher Jose Quintana is in uncharted territory.
The rookie left-hander, who signed as free agent in the offseason after his release from the New York Yankees, has become one of the Sox’s most reliable starters. However, Quintana, 23, never logged more than 102 innings in any season during his eight years in the minor leagues.
Quintana added to his career-high innings total (110) during Saturday’s 5-4 win against the Seattle Mariners. He tossed 52⁄3 innings, although he was lucky to last that long. The Mariners forced Quintana to throw 42 pitches in the first inning and tagged him for three runs – a three-run homer by Justin Seager – as Seattle batted around. Quintana walked four in the first but limited the damage by forcing Brendan Ryan to fly out to end the inning, leaving the bases loaded.
Quintana, who earned a no decision, bounced back and retired 12 consecutive batters until Miguel Montero’s two-out single in the fifth. He finished with four walks, all in the first inning, and four strikeouts.
“To be honest with you, I really could not pinpoint what it was,” Quintana said through a translator. “I can’t tell you. At that moment [in the first inning], I was just trying to throw strikes, but it just wasn’t happening. After that inning, I just had to calm myself down, and then I came back out and I felt fine.”
With 37 regular-season games remaining, Quintana and the Sox are thinking about his stamina.
Quintana has thrown his 110 innings through 18 games (16 starts).
He has received extra rest sprinkled in between starts over the past two months. Excluding the All-Star break, Quintana’s starts have been pushed back twice.
But in 10 of his 16 starts, Quintana has thrown at least 101 pitches.
“My arm feels great, feels strong, so there’s no problem with that,” Quintana said. “I’m just going to keep on going out there and battling and just try to help out the team as much as I can.”
The Sox haven’t altered their strategy of how to handle Quintana or the rest of the rotation despite arm fatigue and health concerns.
As the stretch run approaches, manager Robin Ventura said the Sox will consider giving lefty Chris Sale added rest.
He also didn’t rule out trying to work in rest for Jake Peavy, who also has had starts pushed back this season, and Quintana.
But given Gavin Floyd’s inconsistency and the stretches in which Francisco Liriano struggles to find the strike zone, the Sox can’t afford to push back Quintana’s starts.
Still, durability remains the biggest question surrounding Quintana, but it’s a risk the Sox are willing to take by trotting him out every five games. After all, he owns the second-best ERA (2.86) behind Sale and has nine quality starts.
“I don’t think Jake wants any, but [Quintana] is kind of in the same category as Chris,” Ventura said. “It’s the first time he’s been through this extended period of the season. You know, if we can, if there’s a chance to do it and he thinks he needs to have that, it could possibly happen.
“But right now we are not looking to do that. We are just kind of monitoring how they are doing and how they pitch and how they feel afterward.”