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The Cubs' Jose Quintana debut plan: Let him take control

From ESPN - July 16, 2017

BALTIMORE -- It's Jose Quintana day for the Chicago Cubs as they debut their prized July trade piece in Sunday's series finale against the Orioles.

Happy he did not have to change home addresses -- just uniforms -- the former White Sox pitcher simply wants to fit in. His new team, however, needs him to eat up some innings as the Cubs' starting rotation currently ranks 12th in innings pitched in the National League.

"I can plug him in with the rest of our guys. [He] really could be exactly what we are looking for in the second half," manager Joe Maddon said this weekend.

You better believe he could. Quintana is one of six pitchers to throw at least 200 innings over the past four seasons, and despite a slow start, his 104 ⅓ first-half innings have him on pace to do it again. With the Cubs coming off wins Friday and Saturday, Quintana could pitch them to a rare road series sweep to provide the ultimate boost after a shoddy first half.

So what's the plan when he takes the mound for the first time for the Cubs with a young catcher behind the plate? Let Quintana take control.

"For the first outing or two you want to get [catcher] Willson [Contreras] acclimated to what [Quintana] is comfortable doing and maybe what he's not," catching coach Mike Borzello said Saturday. "Not steering him down the wrong path just based on a scouting report. You want to stay with what his strengths are and then incorporate information that we have. It does not hurt he's playing a team he knows."

Quintana is 1-4 with a 4.29 ERA in six career starts against the Orioles, but he's not concerned about numbers. He wants to show his new teammates that the Cubs' brass made the right move.

"I am so happy for this trade," Quintana said. "I really want to help this team."

It's always tough to judge a guy in his first start for a new team, but considering the ease of the transition, Quintana might not need an adjustment period. His manager was asked to put on his scout's hat to assess what the Cubs are getting.

"He's an aggressive pitcher," Maddon said. "Eventually he got better with the off-speed stuff. I saw an assertive pitcher that went after hitters."

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