ST. LOUIS - When Jose Quintana was called up to replace disabled John Danks 19 days ago, it was assumed he'd go back to AAA Charlotte when Danks came back from a sore shoulder.
Fifth starter Philip Humber's slump has opened a door for the rookie lefthander, however, and Quintana, who lowered his ERA to 1.98 with a run allowed over 5 1/3 innings despite giving up 10 Cardinals hits in his fourth start Tuesday night, is proving that he should stick around.
At the very least, Quintana is getting another start against the Dodgers Sunday. There may be more.
"He's proving he can pitch up here,'' manager Robin Ventura said after Quintana earned his second win against the Cardinals Tuesday. "Again, his maturity is one of those things that shows up first for us. He's got great stuff, but when he does what he's doing right now, he's making a strong case for staying around."
Ventura served notice Sunday that the struggling Humber might have to work things out in the bullpen. Humber is slated to start Saturday against the Dodgers.
While Humber and Gavin Floyd struggle, Quintana continues to impress.
"Yeah, he's good,'' teammate Paul Konerko said. "As a hitter, just watching him pitch, he's one of those left-handers that can really bury the ball in on righties. There's not a ton of those guys out there.
"He goes right after people and throws on the inside part of the plate to righties and there were a couple of guys who were ready for it and hit it, but you know there can be a lot of ground balls to the left side and he's not a comfortable, he's not a soft throwing left-hander. It's not like he's throwing 95 or 100 either, but his ball is heavy and it's cutting in and so as a hitter you really have to have your ducks in a row when a guy is doing that.
"It's tough to lay off. There are a lot of balls he throws inside that are right there on the edge of the strike zone and you really have to make good decisions and he just keeps pounding it in there. He's had great results. Good for him.''
Quintana had a lot of traffic in his last start but wiggled out of trouble as he did Tuesday. He got two double play ground balls.
"He keeps his composure out there and sticks with A.J. [Pierzynski] or whoever is catching him,'' Konerko said. "He sticks to his strengths and that's hard in on righties and just trust that over the long haul, that's going to get him ground balls and good results. There was a double down the line and it's not that there are not hits out there, but he trusts his stuff and trusts his defense and that's it. If he gives up a few hits for guys getting his cutter in, he doesn't sit there and say 'I'm going to go away now because I'm scared to throw it.' He just keeps coming right at you. He's been a great surprise for us to come up and do what he has done. He has been lights out.''