2019 Bust Alert: Why Jose Quintana May Be Nothing More Than A SP5

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Jose Quintana has long been viewed as a fantasy favorite by many, despite questions consistently hanging in the background.  With back-to-back years of an ERA above 4.00 has the time come to finally realize that he’s nothing more than a “mediocre” option, as opposed to one that belongs at the top of your fantasy rotation?  Coming off this type of season, you would think that would be the case:

174.1 IP
13 Wins
4.03 ERA
1.32 WHIP
158 Strikeouts (8.16 K/9)
68 Walks (3.51 BB/9)
43.2% Groundball Rate
.282 BABIP

The biggest surprise over the past two years has been the regression of his control.  Early in his career Quintana was among the elite control artists in the league, but he now hasn’t lived up to that billing in three of the past four halves:

  • First Half ’17 – 3.45
  • Second Half ’17 – 2.24
  • First Half ’18 – 4.15
  • Second Half ’18 – 2.70

While his second half of ’18 wasn’t terrible, it also isn’t elite.  He was significantly better in August (2.43) and September (1.89) but at this point it’s getting harder and harder to hang our hats on him maintaining that over an entire season.  Sure a 2.70 BB/9 is a solid mark, but is it enough?

It’s hard to see an upside in his strikeout rate, with an 8.0% SwStr% and 27.6% O-Swing%.  He’s not a hard thrower, with a fourseam fastball that averaged 92.14 mph, and he simply doesn’t offer a true swing and miss pitch.  Just look at his “best” Whiff%:

  • Changeup – 12.63%
  • Curveball – 11.81%
  • Fourseam Fastball – 7.98%

Considering that he only threw his changeup 6.85% of the time, how can we expect a significant strikeout rate?  You could argue that even last year’s mark is tenuous, especially since he was at a 7.76 K/9 or lower in four of six months.

No we get to the groundballs, or lack thereof, which led to consistent home run issues (1.29 HR/9 in the first half, and a matching mark in the second).  It’s not like Quintana has ever been a groundball machine (44.2% career mark), but he had generally been able to avoid the long ball (0.91 HR/9).  That was always a risk that we feared would catch up with him, and now that it’s come to fruition it’s hard to imagine it disappearing once again.

So, here’s what we have:

  • A pedestrian strikeout rate that could regress…
  • Home run issues likely continuing…
  • Potentially solid control, but no longer elite…

So why would we expect anything to suddenly change?  That doesn’t mean that he is unusable, but he’s more of a SP5/SP6 as opposed to someone you want to depend on.  If someone in your league wants to pay a premium for the name?  Move on, as there are countless alternatives who can match or exceed the upside he provides.

Sources – Fangraphs, Brooks Baseball

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