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Closing Time: The idea of Jose Quintana

Are you in or out on Jose Quintana this year? (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

Jose Quintana has been carrying an underrated tag for several years. Wait until he escapes the White Sox, their bad pitch framers, their losing ballclub, their offensive haven. Wait until he has a full season with the Cubs.

But here’s a thought to chew on today — maybe Quintana is so underrated, he’s actually overrated.

The 2018 version of Quintana has been mostly mediocre. The Braves got him for six runs and three homers in Monday’s matinee. It pushed Quintana’s ERA up to 5.23, his WHIP to 1.60. Not what anyone expected from a universal Top 20 preseason pitcher.

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The under-the-hood check won’t bail out Quintana. His velocity and strikeouts are down modestly, his walk rate sky-high (5.47/9). Even with an unlucky strand rate and HR/FB rate, the ERA estimators don’t excuse his pitching. The FIP stands at 5.23, SIERA spits out 4.71.

There’s a pro-side, of course. Maybe the Braves simply own Quintana (two beatdowns); he has a 2.89 ERA against everyone else. The wind was gusting out Monday, making Wrigley Field play very small. Quintana has given us four superb starts this year; then again, the Marlins, of all clubs, tagged him for six runs, too.

No one is enjoying the Quintana struggle like White Sox fans, across town. When the South Side said “Hasta Mañana, Quintana” last July in a fascinating all-Chicago trade, it said hello to four prospects, most notably Eloy Jimenez, touted outfielder. You should know Jimenez’s name by now; the prospect hounds loved him preseason (Top 6 on all clipboards) and Andy Behrens, our resident scout, was promoting Jimenez last week. Jimenez, 21, is currently tearing up the Double-A Southern League (.957 OPS, seven homers in 25 games); in some formats, he’s worth an immediate stash.

Back to The Q — if I were redrafting at this moment, I’d have to slot him as a middle-rotation guy. The pitcher rank is a treacherous ledge — they’re constantly getting hurt and getting healthy; adding and scrapping pitches; tweaking deliveries; finding new, subtle ways to improve and to struggle. The next Shuffle Up is those maddening starting pitchers, coming on the weekend. I wouldn’t feel comfortable needing Quintana as anything more than a SP4 or SP5 right now.

Heck, his career ratios are merely 3.59 and 1.25. Quintana has been consistently good, but he hasn’t been that good, even at peak.

Pick your favorite side of Chicago and have at it on the comments. Tomorrow, we’ll figure out pizza. Today, we take on Quintana. He pitches at Cincinnati later in the week, then hosts San Francisco after that.

• Writing about the Angels bullpen always feels like a fool’s errand. So I’m your fool and let’s go tackle that errand.

Just when I locked in the spelling of Keynan Middleton, he’s encountered a bunch of injury problems Now it’s UCL damage, no laughing matter. An extended absence is coming, perhaps an elbow reconstruction. Look for the name “James Andrews” in the next few days.

And round up the usual suspects.

Blake Parker recorded a one-out save Sunday, picking up Jim Johnson’s mess. Cam Bedrosian worked earlier in that game, and, fatefully, Middleton.

Then it was Justin Anderson with the handshake Monday, a rocky ride (two hits, one walk) over 17 pitches. Anderson’s a tricky guy to get a read on. He’s struck out 15 men in 10.1 innings, outstanding, but he also has six walks and two homers allowed. That’s how you get to a 5.23 ERA and 1.55 WHIP.

So place your bets. Will Scioscia give Anderson, the kid, a chance to get some traction? Why hasn’t be trusted Bedrosian more in the past? How many bullets does Johnson have left, in his 13th season? Is Parker’s control good enough?

This is not a bullpen I’d want to throw heavy resources at. Most managers don’t really want a committee — it’s easier to have a push-button answer for the ninth — but Scioscia might enjoy the mix-and-match game. I’m fine with speculating here and obviously every fantasy question is heavy on your personal context, but I will not be spending big FAAB or front-line waiver priority for anyone on this list.

At least, that’s my story today. Maybe I’ll feel differently in a few days. Perhaps Scioscia will anoint someone the baton-holder. You never want to get dug in on these things.

• It was a quick hello and goodbye for D.J. LeMahieu (thumb), who returned to the disabled list. Why do these things always happen so often on Mondays? It’s hell in a weekly league.

Pat Valaika and Daniel Castro are second-base options for Colorado, but keep an eye on Ryan McMahon, who’s getting some second-base run with Triple-A Albuquerque. It might be time for a spec call on McMahon, who made the team out of camp but was buried quickly. McMahon hasn’t hit anywhere this year, but he was a monster in the minors (at Double-A and Triple-A) last year.

• Longtime favorite Adam Wainwright is back on the DL, too, but the Cardinals always had the ready replacement. It’s time to start dreaming about what could go right. Make sure this name isn’t on your league’s waiver wire:

 

• I wish Niko Goodrum had more resume and back class to recommend, but he’s hit three homers in two games and the injury-riddled Tigers probably need him to play. He has four homers, four bags, a .514 slugging percentage. I expected the Tigers to be a dead zone for offense, a streaming target, but thus far, they’ve been okay. Detroit stands 14th in runs, 11th in OPS. Maybe it’s a bumpy road, but not a full-on crash.

And hey, I just like saying “goodrum.” If you feel like a spin down Woodward Avenue, Detroit’s Swiss-Army Knife is free in 95 percent of Yahoo leagues.