There's still no stopping Jose Quintana.
The 23-year-old rookie's success very well could've come to a screeching halt Thursday afternoon against Texas. Last week, Quintana allowed six runs in six innings against the Yankees, his first start since coming to the majors that wasn't good. Of course, it came against the second-best lineup in the majors (by wOBA).
On Thursday, Quintana faced the best lineup in the major leagues and held them to two hits and one run over eight innings. He only walked one and struck out eight. Given the opponent and level of success, it was arguably Quintana's best start of the season.
With the start, Quintana's ERA dipped to 2.04 on the season. While it's tough to expect him -- or anyone -- to maintain an ERA that low for the rest of the season, his 3.04 FIP gives us a pretty decent indication that he'll keep up some level of success.
The biggest worry about Quintana is how he'll adjust when the league gets the book on him, so to speak. But we're already seeing Quintana make adjustments, and succeed with those adjustments.
Quintana threw 113 pitches on Thursday: 54 fastballs, 34 sliders, 20 curveballs and five changeups, according to Brooks Baseball's pitch fx tool. His breaking stuff was outstanding, generating 11 swings and misses, and he threw both his curveball and slider at a higher rate than in his previous nine appearances.
His changeup is still very much a work in progress, and down the road, he'll probably need that pitch to sustain success. But for now, his ability to change speeds on his curveball -- which had about a 4-5 mph range and was generally about 10-15 mph slower than his fastball -- has been good enough. His hard slider has kept opponents honest on his fastball, which maxes out in the low 90's.
But perhaps most importantly, Quintana appears mentally mature beyond his years. Plenty of young pitchers, from the most hyped prospect to the off-the-scrap-heap fill-in, struggle to throw strikes on baseball's biggest stage. Quintana hasn't had that problem -- he's only averaging 1.57 walks per nine innings.
He's made it easy to forget that he still has yet to pitch a game at the Triple-A level. Quintana was released by the Yankees' organization after pitching in Single-A last year. He certainly doesn't have the profile of someone who should be dominating the best lineup in baseball.
But on Thursday, Quintana did just that. And perhaps the most surprising thing is that it wasn't really a surprise at all.