Although the Cardinals season has taken a turn for the worse and they are now on the outside looking in, Chris Carpenter has continued to produce incredible numbers all year long. Carpenter, along with Triple Crown contender Albert Pujols, has truly been the anchor that holds this team together with his consistent pitching.
Let’s go through some of Carp’s season stats after yesterday afternoon’s seven and a third inning, two run, eleven strikeout performance. Carpenter has compiled a 15-5 record in 30 starts, with 204 innings pitched. He has struck out 158 batters to go along with an ERA of 2.90 and a WHIP of 1.16. With these numbers, Carpenter is on pace for his second best win and strikeout totals and third best ERA in his career. There is no question that these are outstanding individual statistics, but just how have they impacted the team as a whole?
Well, Carpenter has posted a record of 5-0 against the division leader Cincinnati Reds and given up a remarkable seven earned runs in those five starts. In fact, Carp is 9-1 against teams with a winning record this season. Finally, he has not lost more than two games in a row at all this year, but has won two or more games in a row three times this year. Alright, I think I’m all out of stats for now. The point is, Carpenter has been extremely effective, consistent, and clutch for the Redbirds from April to September.
As a manager, there is no better feeling than going into a game knowing that you are going to get a quality start from your pitcher. Carpenter puts the Cardinals in a position to win every time he takes the mound and because of that, manager Tony La Russa and Carp’s teammates have developed strong confidence in him.
Carpenter may never get the recognition that he deserves, especially considering that he is often overshadowed by Cards ace and Cy Young contender Adam Wainwright. However, Chris could definitely be the number one guy in the rotation for many teams around major league baseball. You could even make a strong case that he has been more important to St. Louis’s success this year than Wainwright has. For his talent level, I believe he is one of the most underrated pitchers in baseball. Whether Carp wants to be in the spotlight or not, he has earned it because the numbers just don’t lie.
Carpenter has been at his best against great teams in critical games when the stakes are raised. This speaks volumes as to his ability to perform under pressure when it matters most. Even during the Cards embarrassing August slump when many players were criticized for a lack of effort, Carpenter kept his competitive edge that Redbird fans have grown to love over the years.
With 28 games remaining on the schedule for the Cardinals, Carpenter figures to get about five more starts during the regular season, giving him a chance to win 20 games for the second time in his career. The first time, he won 21 games in 2005 and won the N.L. Cy Young award. This year, there is no reason that Carpenter shouldn’t get strong consideration for the ultimate pitching award, provided he finishes like he started.
As the MLB calendar flips from August to September, the pretenders are being separated from the contenders and the Cardinals are right on the fence. Only time will tell what direction the Cards will go in to finish the season, but I know for sure that they would not be in this position without superstar pitcher Chris Carpenter.