Don't Let the No-Hit Win Outshine José Quintana

Photo Credit: Justin K. Aller/Getty

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Yes, the Pittsburgh Pirates won a game over the Cincinnati Reds yesterday while having no hits on the afternoon.  It was not technically a no-hitter, because the Reds did not convert 27 outs, but the Pirates won a game with zero hits recorded.  This evened the four-game weekend series to two wins a piece.

In the bottom of the 8th inning, Rodolfo Castro, Michael Perez, and Ben Gamel all walked to load the bases with one out.  Ke'Bryan Hayes grounded into what looked like could be a double play ball.  However, the Reds were unable to complete the double play, and Castro scored.  

David Bednar then came in for the save in the top of the 9th and, obviously, shut the Reds down.  Therefore, the Reds didn't have the opportunity to pitch the bottom of the 9th, thus not technically counting as a no-hitter.  It was just the 6th time in MLB history that a team won a game while recording no hits.  

While a win with a no hits deserves media buzz as it has not been done in 14 seasons, unfortunately it overshadows what I see as the most newsworthy.  He didn't get the win, but Jose Quintana had another great start yesterday.  He pitched seven scoreless innings, giving up only three hits and a walk, and striking out five.  Quintana was able to get through seven shut out innings with just 89 pitches, 62 of them for strikes.  

Jose Quintana has been nothing short of outstanding, pitching this season for the Pirates.  He has a 2.19 ERA and hasn't given up more than three earned runs in any given start this season.

Also, while some Pirates have had the luxury of seeing newfound success against bad teams *cough* Zach Thompson *cough*, Quintana has been successful against all levels of lineups.  He has been given gifts like the Chicago Cubs twice, and the Washington Nationals and Detroit Tigers both one time each.  However, he has also been tasked with 1st place teams like the Milwaukee Brewers and Los Angeles Dodgers.  Each time, regardless of the opponent, Quintana takes the ball and shoves.  And while I do joke about the Reds, and their now 9-26 record, they were one of the hottest hitting teams coming into this four-game series with the Pirates.

Quintana has been largely successful this season by pitching to contact while also keeping the ball in the ballpark.  While Quintana has just 30 strikeouts in 37 innings, he has also only walked 14 and given up just two homeruns.  Opponents are batting just .194 off of Quintana this season with just a .551 OPS.  He was also the first Pirates starter to get a win this season, 28 games in, against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

The acquiring of Quintana this past offseason was looking as if it'd have very little effect coming out of Spring Training, and he would be DFA'ed by June.  Especially because during Spring Training he looked like the same pitcher he has since being traded from the Chicago White Sox in 2017.  Since the trade, he had a 4.51 ERA and a pretty lousy 1.35 WHIP.  However, Quintana has proven to be a true ace of the staff so far this season when Mitch Keller, again, has shown he never will be.  

Now, it should be noted that AJ Burnett's success with the Pirates came after his 33rd birthday. But Quintana at 33 years old is probably not going to be much more than a trade piece at this year's July trade deadline.  Retaining the rights of post-30 year-olds who will be unrestricted free agents is not really the Pirates M.O. right now.  Like it or not, Quintana probably won't be playing a large part in 2024 or 2025 so it is likely the Pirates move him for value at the deadline.  

However, that doesn't mean any success Quintana has for us is a waste.  The better he pitches, the better the return will be.  And maybe, the Pirates will see him as a guy who can help this team in '23, '24, and/or '25 and sign him long-term.  But I'm not getting my hopes up.  I am just going to live in the moment with Quintana and root for him now while I still can.