Stanford in the MLB Playoffs: Cal Quantrill ’16 falls short to juggernaut Yankees in NLDS

Oct. 20, 2022, 1:32 a.m.

Cal Quantrill ‘16 of the Cleveland Guardians showed flashes of his regular season dominance, but ultimately took a pair of losses against the New York Yankees in the American League Divisional Series this past week.

Quantrill played for the Cardinal from 2014-16, notching a 9-5 record with a 2.57 ERA in 20 starts. He became the first freshman to start on opening day for Stanford since Mike Mussina in 1988, who went on to be inducted into the MLB Hall of Fame in 2019.

Quantrill’s Stanford career was cut short as he underwent Tommy John surgery and missed the 2016 season, which was his junior year. He was drafted by the San Diego Padres with the eighth pick in the first round and was part of a high-profile trade at the deadline in 2020, with Mike Clevinger a notable piece heading to Southern California in return.

Quantrill started two crucial games against the strongly favored New York Yankees over the past week after an impressive regular season (15-5, 3.38 ERA). In Game One of the series, Quantrill started hot at a hostile Yankee Stadium, striking out newly crowned AL home run champion Aaron Judge and slugger Anthony Rizzo to quiet a loud crowd in the Bronx.

Through five innings, he limited New York’s potent offense to two runs on just three hits, going toe-to-toe with Yankees ace Gerrit Cole. In the bottom of the sixth, however, Judge and Rizzo exacted their revenge, combining for a walk and two-run blast to knock Quantrill out of the game, handing him the loss in the series opener. 

Quantrill took the mound once more in Game four, looking to send Cleveland to its first American League Championship Series since 2016. But it was a similar story for Quantrill as the long ball punished him early and he was replaced after five innings, giving up three runs, all earned.

After the game, Quantrill said “I think I can throw better than I threw today … it’s disappointing.” The Yankees, after a rain delay pushed the “win-or-go-home” game five to Tuesday, ultimately prevailed to advance to the ALCS where they will face the Houston Astros. 

For Quantrill and the Guardians, the season ended in disappointment, but the former Stanford ace can look ahead to next spring with optimism after a breakout year in the majors. From his first start, a win in a 17-3 rout of the Kansas City Royals on April 10, 2022, Quantrill demonstrated exceptional command, ranking 26th in walks per nine innings among starting pitchers, with 2.27.

He became a key part of a formidable starting rotation that led Cleveland to win the American League Central over the Chicago White Sox by 11 games. With 114 days until pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training, Quantrill will be back soon enough with his sights firmly set on returning to the biggest stage in October and prevailing.

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