“…very unlikely that he will pitch in 2013.” – John Mozeliak, Cardinals GM (about 20 minutes ago)
“Well, FU*%!” -Me, just now
If it looks like a duck and sounds like a duck, then it’s probably forced retirement in the near future. Grrr.
If you want to spend time eulogizing Chris Carpenter‘s career, then just understand that statistics give you a very limited view of it. More specifically his career regular season statistics provide only a glimpse of Carpenter’s impact.
- 144-94 career regular season record (.605 winning pace)
- 3.76 career ERA
- 1.16 career ERA+
- 2219.1 innings pitched
- 1.276 career WHIP
- 6.4 SO/9
- 8.5 H/9
- 1.6 B/9
- 32.8 WAR over 15 seasons
His career accolades merit respect, but they may not overwhelm.
- 3 All-Star selections
- 2005 NL Cy Young Award winner
- 2005 and 2006 NL TSN Pitcher of the Year
- 2009 NL Comeback Player of the Year
- 2009 NL ERA title
Very little about those bullet points tell you anything useful about Chris Carpenter. Carp will forever be remembered by Cardinal Nation as a big time, big game pitcher who provided the rock upon which many a playoff run was built.
- Game 1 of the 2005 NLDS against the Padres – Carp shuts down the Friars for 6 innings with 91 pitches. He departs the game with an 8-0 lead that the Padres eventually narrow to 8-5 before running out of frames.
- Game 1 of the 2005 NLCS against the Astros – Carp surrenders 2 earned runs in 8 solid innings to help push the Redbirds to a 5-3 victory.
- Game 5 of the 2005 NLCS against the Astros – Carp goes 7 innings, yields 3 earned runs, and finishes with a no decision.
- Game 1 of the 2006 NLDS against the Padres – Carpenter helps the team steal home field advantage away from the Pads by limiting them to 1 earned run over 6.1 innings. Cardinals go on to win 5-1.
- Game 4 of the 2006 NLDS against the Padres – Carp goes 7 strong and gives up 2 earned runs. Cardinals cruise to 6-2 victory to clinch the series.
- Game 2 of the 2006 NLCS against the Mets – Carpenter gets rocked to the tune of 5 earned runs in 5 innings pitched. Worst. Playoff start. Ever. Cardinals still win 9-6 to hand him the “no decision” again.
- Game 6 of the 2006 NLCS against the Mets – Carp cruises through 6 innings while allow just 2 runs, but gets lifted in the top of the 7th for a pinch hitter. Braden Looper replaces Carpenter and does a very Braden Looper thing by giving up 2 earned runs in just 17 pitches. Efficient derps are the best derps it seems.
- Game 3 of the 2006 World Series against the Tigers – Carpenter dominates for 8 solid innings, needing only 82 pitches to hold the Tigers scoreless for that long. His final game score of “82” is pretty good if you are into that kind of thing. Cardinals take 2-1 series lead with a 5-0 victory.
- Game 1 of the 2009 NLDS against the Dodgers – Carpenter has preposterously un-good day and gets battered for 4 runs in 5 innings. The series was already turning for the worst before Matt Holliday fought a moth.
- Game 2 of the 2011 NLDS against the Phillies – Carp lasts just 3 innings in which he gives up 4 earned runs. Fortunately, Jon Jay and Albert Pujols drive in the tying and go-ahead runs respectively to get the victory.
- Game 5 of the 2011 NLDS against the Phillies – Mention this game to most Cardinal fans, and they know exactly what happened. Carpenter vs Halladay. Former teammates. You may have heard that they both played for the Blue Jays once upon a time. The penultimate game of “win or go home” baseball with 2 aces dueling and dealing. Roy Halladay goes 8 innings and yields just 1 run on 126 pitches for a game score of 72. Doc’s strikeout to walk ratio for the game? 7 to 1. As unlikely as it sounds, Carpenter bested his buddy with a performance for the ages. 9 ip, 3 hits, 0 R, 0 ER, 3 SO, 0 BB, 110 pitches, 84 game score.
- Game 3 of the 2011 NLCS against the Brewers – Yovani Gallardo wasn’t that good, but neither was Carp. Carpenter’s “not good” just happened to be slightly better than Gallardo’s. The Brewers get to Carp for 3 earned runs in 5 innings, but the Cardinals take the game 4-3.
- Game 1 of the 2011 World Series against the Rangers – Carp goes 6 strong against the Rangers who only manage 2 runs off of him while CJ Wilson fails to finish the 6th inning before giving up his 3rd earned run of the night. Fernando Salas, Marc Rzepczynski, Octavio Dotel, Arthur Rhodes, and Jason Motte combine for 3 innings of work and 17 pitching changes to finish the job. Cardinals take series opener 3-2.
- Game 5 of the 2011 World Series against the Rangers – The Rangers take 3-2 series lead and get a certain measure of revenge against Carp. Despite giving up only 2 earned runs in 7 innings pitched, Carp earns a “no decision” in a 2-4 Cardinals loss.
- Game 7 of the 2011 World Series against the Rangers – With a huge assist from Mother Nature, Carp gets the chance to come back and pitch for the 3rd time in the series. On perhaps a combination of adrenaline and determination, Carp gave the Cardinals 6 innings and departed with a 5-2 lead. The Cardinals bullpen takes the final third of the game and carries the team to the finish line.
- Game 3 of the 2012 NLDS against the Nationals – 106 pitches, 2 walks, 2 strikes, 7 hits, and a big fat zero for runs. Cardinals romp 8-0 to take 2-1 series lead.
- Game 2 of the 2012 NLCS against the Giants – Carp gave up 2 runs in 4 innings on 76 pitches.
- Game 6 of the 2012 NLCS against the Giants – Carp gave up 2 runs in 4 innings on 76 pitches. Rough way to finish, but his 8 innings pitched in in the NLCS likely stands as the MLB record for innings pitched in the NLCS the same year as having a freaking rib removed.
Carpenter will not merit serious consideration for the Hall of Fame. Then again, that distinction no longer carries with it quite the cachet that it once did. No, Carpenter won’t be enshrined in Cooperstown, but he will have a unique place in franchise history even if he’s finished writing it a little too early.
Follow gr33nazn on Twitter for cuss jar recommendations…
PS. I’m still fine with Carp shocking everyone with 1 more comeback and some bullpen appearances though…