Jose Quintana

Jose Quintana is the unluckiest pitcher alive

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After opening the game with six scoreless innings, White Sox left-hander Jose Quintana was the victim Wednesday when Tyler Flowers’ plate block opened the floodgates for the Giants. It turned what should have been a clear out into the Giants’ first run of the game, and they went on to score seven times in the seventh inning, with four of those runs being charged to Quintana. Since it couldn’t even technically be ruled an error on Flowers or anyone else, all of the runs were earned.

It was just the latest bad break for baseball’s unluckiest pitcher. Quintana is 6-9 this year despite a 3.14 ERA that ranks 14th in the AL (he’d probably be 10th instead if Flowers could have waited to shift his foot over).

In 2013, Quintana was 17th in the AL with a 3.51 ERA, yet finished just 9-7 in his 33 starts.

As a rookie in 2012, Quintana was 6-6 with a 3.76 ERA in 22 starts and three relief appearances.

Add it all up and we have a guy with a sub-.500 career record, despite a 3.46 ERA. That ERA translates into a 119 ERA+, making him one of the six best starters since 1901 with at least 40 decisions and a sub-.500 record.

Johnny Rigney – 122 ERA+ – 64-64, 3.59 ERA from 1937-47
Jim Scott – 121 ERA+ – 107-114, 2.30 ERA from 1909-17
Ned Garvin – 120 ERA+ – 39-65, 2.70 ERA from 1901-1904 (58-97, 2.72 ERA from 1896-1904)
Thornton Lee – 119 ERA+ – 117-124, 3.56 ERA from 1933-48
Jhoulys Chacin – 119 ERA+ – 38-48, 3.78 ERA from 2009-14
Jose Quintana – 119 ERA+ – 21-22, 3.46 ERA from 2012-14

It must be something about the White Sox. Rigney and Scott spent their entire careers with the team, and Lee was there throughout his prime. Even Garvin spent most of 1902 with the team. Chacin seems destined to land there eventually… or maybe he’ll just turn into a winner.

For Quintana, though, wins and losses aren’t the whole picture. It’s also all of the non-decisions. He’s been involved in the decision in just 43 of his 80 starts, which is unique throughout history. Among active starters, only Brandon Beachy joins Quintana in getting a decision in fewer than 55 percent of his starts, and Beachy has started barely half as many games (25 decisions, 46 starts).

Quintana has received a decision in 54 percent of his career starts. AL starters as a whole this year are at 71 percent. The next lowest mark of anyone active with more starts than him belongs to Chris Young, who has received a decision in 62 percent of his 182 starts. And most of the high no-decision guys get that way because they don’t work deep into games. Quintana, though, has averaged 6.05 innings per start in his career. The AL average this year is 5.94 innings per start.

So, with all of those no decisions, Quintana has won just 26.25 percent of his career starts, something that really sets him apart from the earlier group. Even Chacin has won 35 percent of his career starts.

Quintana is far and away the best pitcher ever to win fewer than 30 percent of his starts.

Quintana – 119 ERA+ – 21 W, 80 GS
Henderson Alvarez – 108 ERA+ – 23 W, 80 GS
Tomo Ohka – 105 ERA + – 51 W, 178 GS
Tom Cheney – 104 ERA+ – 19 W, 71 GS
John Thomson – 104 ERA+ – 63 W, 212 GS
Masato Yoshii – 101 ERA+ – 32 W, 118 GS

But it’s also the remarkable consistency. Quintana hasn’t won 30 percent of his starts in any of his three years to date. Since 2000, there are 45 pitchers, minimum 120 innings pitched, to win fewer than 30 percent of their starts with an ERA+ of 110. Quintana is three of them. Ranked by ERA+, his 2014 is 13th on the list, his 2013 is 19th and his 2012 is 27th.

Gerrit Cole named Pirates’ Opening Day starter

BRADENTON, FL - FEBRUARY 19: Gerrit Cole #45 of the Pittsburgh Pirates poses for a photograph during MLB spring training photo day on February 19, 2017 at Pirate City in Bradenton, Florida. (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images)
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Right-hander Gerrit Cole is set to take the mound for the Pirates on Opening Day, according to a team announcement on Saturday. It’s a spot that was most recently occupied by former Pirate Francisco Liriano, who made three consecutive Opening Day starts for the club before getting dealt to the Blue Jays last August.

The 26-year-old produced career-worst numbers during his fourth run with the Pirates in 2016, due in large part to bouts of inflammation in his right elbow. He finished the year with a 3.88 ERA, 2.8 BB/9 and 7.6 SO/9 over 116 innings before getting shut down in September to avoid further injury to his elbow. When healthy, however, Cole has been lights-out for the Pirates. Prior to his injury-laden campaign last year, he touted a career 3.07 ERA, 2.2 BB/9, 8.5 SO/9 and cumulative 10.2 fWAR from 2013 through 2015.

Cole will go toe-to-toe with the Red Sox during Boston’s home opener on Monday, April 3. Right-hander Jameson Taillon is scheduled to make the second start of the year, while fellow righty Ivan Nova will cover the Pirates’ home opener against the Braves on April 7. The Pirates’ third and fifth starters have yet to be announced.

Brett Anderson and Mike Montgomery could share Cubs’ rotation spot in 2017

CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 01:  Mike Montgomery #38 of the Chicago Cubs throws a pitch during the seventh inning against the Cleveland Indians in Game Six of the 2016 World Series at Progressive Field on November 1, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
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Cubs’ manager Joe Maddon hasn’t selected a fifth starter for his 2017 rotation yet, but told reporters that he could envision left-handers Brett Anderson and Mike Montgomery sharing the spot throughout the year. Neither pitcher was stretched out to the full 200-inning threshold last year, Maddon added, and suggested that the two could alternate innings out of the rotation and bullpen as needed (via MLB.com’s Carrie Muskat).

Anderson, 29, was acquired by the Cubs in January on a $3.5 million deal. He’s coming off a rough 2016, during which he underwent back surgery and missed all but 11 1/3 innings of his last season with the Dodgers. His last full, healthy year in the majors yielded a 3.69 ERA, 2.3 BB/9 and 5.8 SO/9 over 180 1/3 innings with Los Angeles in 2015.

Montgomery, meanwhile, is vying for a rotation spot after pitching almost exclusively from the bullpen during the second half of the Cubs’ 2016 run. The 27-year-old lefty put up a 2.82 ERA, 4.7 BB/9 and 8.9 SO/9 over 38 1/3 innings for Chicago last year, returning in the postseason to post a 3.14 ERA during the Cubs’ championship finish.

Maddon also mentioned the possibility of throwing a sixth starter into the mix, which would help prevent his other starters from getting overworked too early in the year. Either way, Anderson and Montgomery are expected to get a lot of looks early in spring training as rotation spots are finalized in the weeks leading up to Opening Day.