Since the start of 2013, 12 pitchers have made at least 90 starts and maintained an ERA under 3.50. Jose Quintana is one of them, and he has just 27 wins to show for it.
The list figures to grow to 17 by the end of the regular season. What’s unlikely to change is Quintana’s misfortune being matched by anyone other than Cole Hamels over the three-season span.
There’s a small consolation: The Chicago White Sox left-hander can win 10 games for the first time in his career Thursday at home against the Oakland Athletics.
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Quintana (9-10, 3.53 ERA) is 27-28 with a 3.45 ERA in 94 starts since the start of 2013. Hamels has 26 wins in 91 starts in that time, while the Texas ace’s 3.52 run-support average is also the only lower than Quintana’s 3.92 mark among the 17.
Unsurprisingly, the list includes some impressive names: Scherzer, Bumgarner, Zimmermann, Hernandez, Lester, Lynn, Price, Shields, Teheran and Miller with Kershaw, Greinke, Kluber, Lackey and Kazmir all likely to reach 90 starts by season’s end.
Granted, the 26-year-old Quintana’s ERA is the highest of the bunch, but Chicago is well aware he hasn’t gotten the results he deserves.
That’s begun to change modestly dating to his shutout in Cleveland on July 24 with Quintana going 5-1 with a 2.98 ERA in 10 starts.
After allowing an earned run and four hits in six innings of Saturday’s 8-2 home win over Minnesota, he can win three straight starts for the first time in what will be the 117th of his career. He got at least seven runs of support for the eighth time in those 94 starts over three years, a far cry from the 36 times the White Sox have given him one run or none.
"I think deep down inside he’s probably ecstatic," manager Robin Ventura told MLB’s official website. "He doesn’t like to show it, but when you’ve gone through what he’s gone through of not getting runs, he will sleep well tonight."
He’s without a decision against Oakland (62-84), though that’s more on him with a 4.85 ERA in two starts. Neither came this season, and first-year A’s Brett Lawrie (1 for 9), Danny Valencia (2 for 14) and Billy Butler (5 for 27 with 11 strikeouts) have all struggled with Quintana.
He’s up against Sean Nolin, who’s a mere 87 career starts shy of 90. Nolin (1-1, 3.09) has made two this season since being called up on Sept. 4, earning his first big league win in Saturday’s 5-3 victory in Texas. He gave up a run and five hits in 5 2-3 innings of his first road outing.
"It’s something I’ve always dreamt about, as a young kid," said Nolin, one of four players Oakland acquired from Toronto last November in the trade for Josh Donaldson. "Overall, the last few years, fighting one injury that prolonged everything else, now I feel like things are lining up."
The White Sox (69-75) have won two of the first three games in the series after Wednesday’s 9-4 victory. They’ve also won nine of the last 11 against Oakland and haven’t lost a home set to the A’s since April 2011, going 12-6 since.
Jose Abreu is 7 for 13 with two home runs and seven RBIs in the series, getting him within one of a second 30-homer season.
Oakland is in danger of dipping 23 games under .500 for the first time since 1997.