The Mets announced to reporters, including Tim Healey of Newsday, that left-hander José Quintana has been assigned to Low-A St. Lucie to begin a rehab assignment. He started tonight’s game and tossed 26 pitches over a scoreless inning and a third, allowing two hits and a walk.
Quintana, 34, joined the Mets this offseason by signing a two-year, $26MM deal. Unfortunately, he has yet to make his debut as a Met due to requiring bone graft surgery for a benign lesion on one of his ribs. When that procedure was announced in March, it was reported that Quintana wouldn’t be able to return until July at the earliest. He seems to be on track to hit that target as long as the rehab assignment goes well. Pitchers can spend a maximum of 30 days on rehab assignments before they need to either be activated or shut down due to some kind of setback.
The imminent return of Quintana puts the Mets within range of having their planned rotation all together for the first time this season. In addition to Quintana’s ailment, Carlos Carrasco and Justin Verlander each spent some time on the IL, while Max Scherzer missed time due to a 10-game ban for foreign substance usage. All of that has left Kodai Senga and Tylor Megill as the only constants in the rotation.
Those various hurdles have coincided with a slow start to the season for the club. Despite winning 101 games last year and having a very aggressive offseason where they ran the payroll up to record heights, they currently sport a record of 31-35, nine games behind Atlanta in the National League East. Thankfully for the Mets, a Wild Card position is far closer to their grasp, as they are only three games back in that race. Now that their rotation is nearing full strength, perhaps that gives them the boost they need to make a surge.
Quintana spent many years as a solid rotation member in Chicago, pitching for both the White Sox and the Cubs. He tossed over 200 innings in each season from 2013 to 2016, then tallied at least 170 frames in each of the next three campaigns. His ERA held steady between 3.20 and 4.68 in those years. He then missed most of the 2020 season due to a thumb injury and struggled badly in 2021, but bounced back nicely last year. Between the Pirates and Cardinals, he tossed 165 2/3 innings with a 2.93 ERA, 20.2% strikeout rate, 6.9% walk rate and 46.4% ground ball rate.
If everyone stays healthy over the next few weeks, Quintana would likely displace Megill from the rotation, as he still has options and has struggled of late. He had a 3.88 ERA after his start on May 18 but has allowed 16 earned runs in his past 16 2/3 innings, bumping his ERA for the season to 5.14.