Posted by @ivyleaguereport on Twitter
My best guess is you don’t need any more information about Jose Quintana. Seven innings of no run ball kind of speaks for itself anyway, doesn’t it? It really was a remarkable performance, and if you weren’t lucky enough to see his gem, know this. It was a true pitcher’s performance. It was one of those efforts that gives you chills and creates audible moments of appreciation from fans and players alike.
But again, I don’t think you need much more information on Quintana. He’s good. He’s young. He’s cheap, which allows TONS of room for more moves both this summer and next winter. This list goes on and on. What we DO need to talk about then is the power we have witnessed since the return from the break. At one point it was something like 11 straight runs scored exclusively on the home run. To be fair the Orioles park is conducive to this (and so are their pitchers!), and even though the baseball has clearly been tinkered with (Fergie Jenkins told me he thinks this as well), that type of power is impressive.
This team needed a spark, and as it turns out, a little rest.
The spark was provided by Theo and Jed as much as Quintana himself. These types of moves prove how confident the front office really is in the on field product and that they aren’t just “blowing smoke,” as Anthony Rizzo so eloquently said upon learning of the deal. Sometimes when your leadership tells you those things, it is a little hard to believe and sounds more like faux positivity, but when you see your owner and management willing to send two extremely highly regarded prospects in a deal for a front of the rotation guy, you remember how real everything is in that moment. You remember that you did do this on your own merely last year, and you can do it again, and immediately so.
Maybe it was the mental break. Maybe it was Quintana’s acquisition. Either way, three days (so don’t get too jacked up yet) into the second half and we have found our way back over .500 and have scored 27 runs. We’ve also given up 11 runs, but eight of those came in game one when my boy Montgomery fell apart and so did everything else. Side note: I’ve not given up on Mike as a starter, but at this time, he’s needed in the bullpen. So yeah, Lackey and Hendricks it is. Kyle will be fine, but Lackey scares me to death at this point. Those things happen though, and much like Lester blowing up, I expect Montgomery to be just fine either way.
Back to the offense, the Cubs absolutely blistered the ball in the Baltimore series. What is even better is it reminds me so much of last year as the home runs weren’t just from your 2-5 guys. Willson, Addy, Zobrist, and Heyward all made round trips in game one while Bryant, Rizzo, and Schwarber combined for one home run and one RBI. Getting that kind of production all through the lineup is what will allow this team to contend in the second half, not just KB, Rizzo, and Schwarber. The rest of the series went much the same with Almora and Russell hitting one along with Rizzo in game two with Bryant and Rizzo doing their thing when the rest didn’t yesterday, leading the Cubs to a marvelous 8-0 victory behind the remarkably effective Quintana.
Now the Cubs travel to Atlanta with Lester set to bounce back from an ugly last start. Atlanta is coming along, so don’t let that record fool you as Jon will battle against a deceivingly good pitcher in Teheran. Don’t let either of their ERA’s fool you.
This is an interesting series as the Cubs are a couple years ahead of the Braves in their turnaround, but while the Cubs got their Word Series last year, and while I still think Atlanta is a year or two away from truly having a shot, don’t let that 45-45 record fool you either. It’s as deceptive as Lester’s ERA. Jon is great, and this Atlanta ballclub is nothing to take lightly.
All of this in mind, there is still no reason for the Cubs and Lester to not travel to Atlanta and take care of business. No road trip is ever easy, but with the bats at least temporarily back to life, this would be the final, legitimate, real statement that honestly says the Cubs are back. Going there and losing the series decidedly will only cause more strife and uncertainty for Theo and Jed as they decide what to do before the deadline hits.
The Quintana deal had nothing to do with a deadline. You won’t win every year, but the Cubs are clearly a great team, so a deal for a player like Quintana who has multiple years left makes sense regardless. Other moves will depend on series like you’re about to see with Atlanta. So while this isn’t a series to make or break the whole year, it might be a series with serious ramifications on the immediate future of the club.
Get ready. It’s about to get real.