ST. LOUIS – Saturday marks International Lefthanders Day, an observance that might take on new life for the St. Louis Cardinals compared to recent years, or even a few weeks ago.
The Cardinals have revamped their starting rotation behind two new southpaws. Left-handed starting pitchers Jose Quintana and Jordan Montgomery joined the Cardinals at the trade deadline. The newcomers have made a strong first impression, and the Cardinals have won their first four combined starts.
Early returns have been just what the doctor ordered. Quintana and Montgomery combined for a respectable 108-105 record, 3.84 ERA and 1,962 strikeouts ahead of their Cardinals debuts. Both have proven they can build on that experience and cover valuable innings as St. Louis pushes for a fourth straight playoff berth.
What better way to get immersed into the Cardinals culture than Quintana’s path? After four seasons with the Chicago Cubs from 2017-2020, Quintana joined the other side of the classic rivalry and dealt in his St. Louis debut. The lefty fired six innings of one-run ball and struck out seven behind just 86 pitches. His first start proved efficient too, as Quintana had once set down 11 in a row in the outing.
Six days later, Quintana took on a tough test at a hitter-friendly ballpark in Coors Field. The Cardinals gave him an early cushion with a five-run first inning, paving the way for his second straight quality start. Quintana held the Rockies to two runs over six innings and struck out six hitters, which held up for his first win with the Cardinals.
“My focus is to keep doing what I’ve been doing,” said Quintana after Wednesday’s start. “I’m really happy we got support early. I’m really happy with my first win as a Cardinal.”
It’s hard to script a Cardinals debut much better than what Jordan Montgomery experienced last weekend. Moved in a last-minute deadline deal from the New York Yankees, the six-year pitcher lined up for his Busch Stadium debut against his only former franchise. And he delivered to the tune of five scoreless innings, containing a high-octane Yankees offense to two hits over 83 pitches in a tight 1-0 victory.
Same ballpark, new opponent into the next weekend series. Montgomery stretched out to six scoreless innings and a career-high 108 pitches in his second Cardinals start. He struck out eight Brewers and escaped a critical sixth-inning jam en route to a quality start and his second straight St. Louis win. Make that 11 scoreless innings to start Montgomery’s Cardinals career.
“This clubhouse is great, a bunch of just quality hearts,” said Montgomery after Friday’s start. “I definitely wanted to make a good couple first impressions and help us win.”
Looking Back, Looking Ahead
The Quintana and Montgomery trades cost the Cardinals a few assets from the majors and minor-league level. Longtime centerfielder Harrison Bader joined the Yankees in the Montgomery deal. Pitcher Johan Ovideo and prospect Malcolm Nunez joined the Pittsburgh Pirates in the Quintana deal, which also netted the Cardinals relief pitcher Chris Stratton.
Through four starts, the duo has covered 23 innings with a combined 1.17 ERA and 22 strikeouts. Since their acquisitions, the Cardinals jumped out of a three-game deficit to overtake the NL Central division lead.
Quintana will be a free agent in the upcoming offseason unless the Cardinals offer a contract extension prior to this winter. Montgomery has one more year of team control beyond this season before he can test free agency.
The Cardinals head into Saturday with a 62-50 record and 1.5-game lead over the Milwaukee Brewers for first place in the NL Central. The three-game series with the Brewers wraps up on Sunday.