Chris Carpenter will have season-ending surgery which means that he will not throw a truly meaningful pitch in the 2012 season. Lesser men might call it quits. Lesser men do not throw a masterpiece together for game 5 of the NLDS while facing Roy Halladay and the Phillies. Lesser men do not have postseason records of 9-2 with a 3.05 ERA and a 1.219 WHIP when it matters the most. If for some reason Carp does not make it back, just keep in mind that his last game was a 2011 World Series game 7 victory.
More important than his achievements thus far in his career is his status among the faithful of Cardinal Nation. For the past 8 seasons, Carp has been the rock upon which championship teams were built. In those 8 years, Carpenter went 95-42 with an ERA of 3.06 and a 1.125 WHIP. Not bad for a guy who missed the equivalent of 2 full seasons during that span. His 162 game average is 17-8 with 188 SO and an ERA+ of 134.
To maintain the integrity of the fairy tale ending, Carp must come back. He doesn’t have to finish on a spectacularly high note. There need not be a perfect game to clinch a series. He just needs to have his named called over the public address system at Busch 1 more time. He needs to walk from the bullpen to the dugout while accompanied by Yadier Molina on one side, and a pitching coach on the other. He needs to take the mound. And if he does not need all this, then maybe we do. Maybe we just need him to roll back time just once, reach back, and throw something by a professional baseball player seeking to make a name for himself. At this point, I’d save all the change in my Teletubby piggy bank to be at Busch for that moment. So would you.
Before we get carried away with an obituary for either Carp or the Cardinals, I should remind you that all is not lost. Consider the starting pitching the Cardinals got from the staff in 2011.
- Chris Carpenter – 11-9, 3.45 ERA, 237.1 IP, 1.256 WHIP
- Jaime Garcia – 13-7, 3.56 ERA, 194.2 IP, 1.320 WHIP
- Kyle Lohse – 14-8, 3.39 ERA, 188.1 IP, 1.168 WHIP
- Jake Westbrook – 12-9, 4.66 ERA, 183.1 IP, 1.533 WHIP
- Edwin Jackson – 5-2, 3.58 ERA, 78.0 IP, 1.462 WHIP
- 4 starts from Lance Lynn, Miguel Batista, and Brandon Dickson
This is what they have so far this season:
- Kyle Lohse – 8-2, 2.80 ERA, 109.1 IP, 1.116 WHIP
- Jake Westbrook – 7-6, 3.91 ERA, 99.0 IP, 1.343 WHIP
- Lance Lynn – 10-4, 3.62 ERA, 97.0 IP, 1.247 WHIP
- Adam Wainwright – 6-8, 4.75 ERA, 96.2 IP, 1.345 WHIP
- Jaime Garcia – 3-4, 4.48 ERA, 66.1 IP, 1.462 WHIP
- Joe Kelly – 1-0, 3.38 ERA, 21.1 IP, 1.500 WHIP
Maybe I’ve been drinking the kool-aid for too long, but I don’t see a reason for panic. The team has 4 starters with ERAs under 4.00, and you would have to work hard to convince me that Wainwright won’t finish the season below 4 as well. Perhaps this team can get there with a combination of luck, prayer, and duct tape. Maybe it only needs good health. The team has the starting pitching to make it to the finish ahead of enough teams to make the playoffs.
Maybe Carp’s season is over, but it would be incredibly silly to hit the panic button this early. Certainly some will disagree with that assessment. Certainly some have pitchforks and signs ready to call on the team to fire John Mozeliak. Then again, people drive cars without using seatbelts, too. Perhaps the demographics overlap a little (or completely). The point I’m trying to make is that there is a reason why they play the games, even when Carp season has ended.
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