The Cubs' pitching staff suffered a blow Thursday, when the team announced that Jose Quintana will miss some time after injuring himself in a dish-washing accident.
While some White Sox fans might jump at the chance to revisit the 2017 Crosstown swap that sent Quintana to the North Side in exchange for Eloy Jimenez and Dylan Cease, it's important to realize that what happens to the Cubs affects the White Sox more than ever in this most unusual of seasons. The two teams are scheduled to meet six times, which accounts for 10 percent of the 60-game regular-season schedule.
In a normal season, games against the Cubs are more of a frivolity, a chance for the city to get excited about the two sides of town squaring off, and a time to provide some memorable moments (speaking of Jimenez). But this year, playoff chances could really hinge on Crosstown matchups, with both teams entering the abbreviated campaign with postseason expectations.
So Quintana's season being in jeopardy is a break for the White Sox, right? Without one of their starting pitchers, the Cubs' staff is worse off than it was yesterday. It's bad news for their bullpen, which might have already been staring at shouldering a heavy load considering the unknown ability of starting pitchers after a three-month layoff. And the White Sox won't have to face a guy they know has the ability to pitch really well. He regularly did just that during his five and a half seasons on the South Side.
But maybe missing out on matchups with Quintana isn't such a good thing for the White Sox.
They've only faced their old mate once, but they did some significant damage against him in September 2018, tagging the former White Sox hurler for five runs on nine hits in his five innings of work. While the White Sox lineup that day featured only a few players still with the organization — Tim Anderson, Yoan Moncada and Adam Eaton made up a third of the batting order; Jose Abreu didn't even play that day — the bats made some noise.
Maybe it was familiarity with an old teammate? Maybe it was just an off day for Quintana, whose Cubs' tenure has been far more of the up-and-down variety than his consistent days with the White Sox?
While the sample size is undoubtedly tiny, the only time the White Sox faced Quintana, they raked. So losing him as a foe might not be an obvious plus, after all. That being said, perhaps the strain placed on the Cubs' staff without him makes everyone else a better opponent for the White Sox, and they rake regardless.
It's complicated, obviously, as even the numbers from that day in 2018 show: Anderson and Moncada, now two rebuilding cornerstones for the White Sox, went a combined 1-for-5. If the White Sox still had Kevan Smith, who homered off Quintana in that game, this would be far easier to figure out.
But nothing is easy to figure out in 2020, including something as seemingly straight forward as a frequent opponent losing a key cog in the starting rotation.