José Quintana had a dominant start his last time out against the Pirates, striking out 11 over seven innings, and the Cubs will be hoping for more of the same today against the Marlins. What really stood out was his use of the changeup, a pitch he has been focusing on since Spring Training.
During his best five-year run in the majors (2013-17), Quintana used his changeup 13% of the time against right-handed hitters. That number fell to 8% last year and he threw his changeup just 6% of the time to righties in his first two starts in 2019. When Quintana’s change is not at its best or he doesn’t throw it, he essentially turns into a two-pitch pitcher.
“When you’re able to repeat it [a changeup], you can face the lineup more times,” Quintana said after his last start ($).
In his most recent start against the Pirates, Quintana threw his changeup four more times than his two previous starts combined and he was also able to generate four swing and misses. That’s a number reminiscent of his days with the White Sox. When it’s on, his changeup gives him another weapon against lefties, as well as a pitch that moves away from the plate against righties, giving them a different look.
Early on in the season, it was common for him to either bounce his changeup or to overthrow it and leave it up in the zone, as we see in the video below.
Against the Pirates, however, he was throwing the pitch with more confidence and wasn’t afraid to go back to it even after bouncing one. Here are looks at all four of his swing-and-miss changeups from the other day.
The location and movement of the pitches are key, as each starts at the batter’s knees before nosediving below, deceiving the hitter’s eyes. Although his changeup’s velocity is very close to his fastball’s (87 compared to 92), its vertical movement is just enough to fool hitters.
As you tune in today, pay close attention to Quintana’s changeup, especially against right-handed hitters. If he’s placing it well and getting a lot of weak contact and whiffs, it should be another effective evening for him.