In his first two starts of the 2021 season, there was legitimate concern about whether or not Jose Quintana was going to be able to be a part of the Los Angeles Angels six-man rotation. In two games against the Houston Astros and Toronto Blue Jays, Quintana only managed to pitch a total of 5.0 innings.
In that time, he allowed 10 hits, seven walks, and 11 runs — nine of them earned — while striking nine batters out. One of those performances came in a 7-6 win, while the other came in a 15-1 blowout loss. Because of these issues, Quintana made one small adjustment before facing the Texas Rangers. He moved from the third base side of the mound to first.
He was rewarded with his best game of the season, albeit in a loss. Quintana felt much better about what he did against the Rangers, and largely credited that adjustment, according to Jeff Fletcher of The O.C. Register:
“It feels great,” Quintana said. “It was way better than last time. … It was a good adjustment to move to the first base side. My fastball in to righties is much better.”
Angels manager Joe Maddon was also happy with what he saw, with Quintana putting himself in position to win the game.
“Overall, I thought he was better,” Maddon said. “The fastball was up to 92 a lot, which I like. Overall, he was pretty darn good and had a chance to get to the win.”
All in all, Quintana pitched 5.0 innings, the same amount as the first two outings combined. On Wednesday, he walked four and allowed two hits, giving up just one single run. When he left the game, the Angels led 3-1.
Sadly, the Angels bullpen could not get Quintana across the finish line for his first win of the season. Mike Mayers allowed four runs in the eighth inning and Junior Guerra allowed two more in the ninth as the Halos wound up losing 7-4.
While it’s disappointing they couldn’t get the win, the Angels have to be encouraged with the significant improvement of Quintana from his first two starts to his third.
Maddon keeping his faith in Mayers
Despite one of the worst performances in recent memory from Mayers — allowing four runs without recording an out — Maddon is not questioning his belief in the Angels reliever. He is also not blaming this issue on the decision to pitch him for a second day in a row, despite that being the prevailing narrative.