José Quintana hasn’t pitched in a competitive setting since spring training, but his rehab from a thumb injury suffered when washing a wine glass at home during the shutdown is reportedly well. The lefty has thrown several bullpen sessions is currently at the Cubs’ alternate site in South Bend, where he’s thrown at least two simulated starts.
Theo Epstein told ESPN 1000’s Kap & J. Hood on Monday morning that Q “got into the 4th inning” during Sunday’s outing, though he didn’t offer much more detail. As promising as that is, we shouldn’t be seeing him at Wrigley in the immediate future. David Ross told the media prior to Sunday’s series finale with the Brewers that Quintana “had things to iron out” and that he was not considered an option to pitch in the compressed series against the Cardinals.
— Mark Gonzales (@MDGonzales) August 17, 2020
Though the manager wasn’t entirely definitive, it’s hard to imagine Q jumping back into action on just two days’ rest from his work in South Bend. It’s possible, however, that he could be ready by the weekend series against the White Sox. The Cubs will get a much-needed break on Thursday after playing the Cards five times in three days, at which point Jon Lester can go on regular rest.
The other starters should be able to do the same in subsequent games, assuming Ross opts for spot-starters for the second halves of the doubleheaders, but the bullpen may need some bolstering. There’s also the matter of Tyler Chatwood being on the injured list, which could put the Cubs in need of a starter by Tuesday in Detroit.
However, Chatwood was placed on the IL retroactive to last Thursday and is eligible to return prior to the Cubs’ series against the Tigers. His readiness may determine whether and how Quintana is used. Should Chatwood’s back feel better, perhaps Q is eased into the mix as a piggyback starter or long reliever. It’s also possible the Cubs could use that extra time to push him back to one half of the doubleheader in Cincy at the end of the month.
Starting a 7-inning game might be for the best, since the Cubs could use Quintana as the 29th man on the roster for that day and wouldn’t need to get much length from him. Waiting another 12 days would also give him the chance to stretch out in lower-stress outings, ensuring that he’s fully healed and ready to go. Expect to hear more about a possible timeline over the next day or two once the Cubs see how Quintana bounces back from this latest effort.