Seventh Core Player of the Cleveland Guardians; Cal Quantrill – SP
I have been a massive fan of Cal Quantrill this season, not only because he single-handedly revived faith in Cleveland’s pitching in 2021, but also how he handled the challenge of stretching into a starter from the bullpen midseason.
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Quantrill, who came to Cleveland from the Friars at the 2020 trade deadline (seriously, thank you San Diego), started 2021 in the bullpen after Triston McKenzie and Logan Allen won the two rotation spots up for grabs, but moved into the rotation in the middle of June with injuries piling up and dumpsters catching fire. His brief ramp-up period compared to his past six-or-so weeks has been nothing short of remarkable.
Quantrill joined the rotation full time on June 15 against the Orioles, and from then until the All-Star break he compiled a 1-0 record with a 5.28 ERA over 29 innings pitched and just a single quality start. Since the All-Star break, Quantrill has been phenomenal, going 3-0 in nine starts, spanning 55 innings pitched, registering a 1.47 ERA and seven quality starts.
Quantrill has seen an impressive uptick in his strikeout rate, collecting 52 of his 95 on the season in these nine starts while generating excellent swing-and-miss movement on his Slider (32.8 Whiff%) and a 45.6% ground ball rate. Translation; he does an excellent job limiting hard contact and keeps the ball in the yard.
Quantrill is just 26, under club control (say it with me, kids) until 2026, and despite the small sample size as a starter he’s been predictably consistent, and appears to be poised to repeat it as a full-time member of Cleveland’s rotation in 2022. His 3.3 WAR on the season, second on the team, is nothing to scoff at either.
Over the course of one season he has transformed himself from bullpen arm to having a number two starter ceiling, something he gave Cleveland when they needed it most. Overall, Quantrill has cemented himself as a member of this core as it’s presently constructed, but will be a key piece of it as the youth movement begins to knock the door down. I’m going to go send the Padres a gift basket.