Cal Quantrill offers Cy Young potential for the Cleveland Guardians
The 2021 season has been a true coming of age story for Cal Quantrill. The 26-year old pitcher joined the Cleveland Indians, soon to be the Cleveland Guardians, at the 2020 trade deadline as part of the return for Mike Clevinger. After struggling in San Diego, the eighth overall selection from the 2016 MLB Draft had been moved to the bullpen. However, the injuries to the 2021 starting rotation in Cleveland opened the door for Quantrill to revamp his career.
The transition into the rotation was a bit bumpy for Quantrill. The month of June proved to be difficult, but once his pitch count was high enough to consistently go at least five innings an appearance, Quantrill was able to settle in. Now, the question becomes how high is his ceiling? Going a step further, is there potential there for a Cy Young-caliber starting pitcher?
If you look at the second half of the season for Cal Quantrill, being after the All-Star break through the rest of the season, there’s a clear view of Cy Young potential. In the second half Quantrill has started 14 games for Cleveland, going 7-1 over that span. Over 88 innings pitched, he’s been able to maintain an ERA of 1.94 while striking out 78 and walking just 27. Pairing that with 64 hits allowed and he’s posted a WHIP of 1.034.
For comparison, let’s take a look at Gerrit Cole. Cole has been one of the best pitchers in the game for multiple seasons and this year has been no exception. He’s placed his name among the top candidates for the American League Cy Young, but somehow his second half stats, or even season stats, don’t match that of Quantrill.
Since the break, Cole has made 15 starts for the New York Yankees, posting an ERA of 3.05 over that span to go with a record of 10-4. Totaling 94.1 innings, Cole’s advantage comes in the form of strikeouts and walks. He’s walked just 21 batters and has struck out 129, averaging over 12 strikeouts per nine compared to Quantrill’s eight.
The differences between Cole and Quantrill are slim. Cole pitches in the big city lights of New York, which helps his chances, and has the flashier stat line thanks to the high strikeout rate. With that being said, Quantrill has the lower ERA and better winning percentage.
Now, for this season the odds of Quantrill being the Cy Young were slim. He started in the bullpen and had a rough transition to the rotation before finding his groove. However, the second half sample size places him among the best pitchers in the game since the break. So when talking about the big picture beyond the 2021 season, Quantrill has the ability to put his name in the Cy Young conversation if he can keep this up with the Cleveland Guardians in 2022 and beyond.
With a healthy Shane Bieber, the Cleveland Guardians could begin the new era in club history with at least two Cy Young-caliber starting pitchers. Bieber has already proved he can collect the award, winning it last season, and Quantrill is showcasing his ability to do the same. Throw in Aaron Civale and Zach Plesac, who are both still finding consistency, along with Triston McKenzie to close out the rotation and Cleveland is bound to have one of the best rotations in the game yet again.
At the core of that rotation will be the surprising piece of Cal Quantrill. Being an eighth overall selection, the potential was obviously there, but it wasn’t until he came to Cleveland that he was able to tap into that potential. Whatever the coaching staff does with pitchers seems to work and Quantrill is the latest example. If he can continue to progress through the offseason and build on this season’s success, there’s a solid chance that Cleveland could roster at least two of top Cy Young candidates in the American League.