The St. Louis Cardinals got some terrible news on February 5. MLB Network has reported that ace starter Chris Carpenter has announced that he will miss all of 2013 due to the same lingering shoulder problems – thoracic outlet syndrome — that caused him to miss most of 2012. The condition had caused Carpenter neck and shoulder discomfort and numbness in his pitching hand. At age 37, he may have — unfortunately — pitched his last game.
What Chris Carpenter meant to the Cardinals
MLB Network analysts Greg Amsinger, Billy Ripken, and Mitch Williams discussed Chris Carpenter’s career and what he has meant for the Cardinals since joining them in 2004. They said that he was the best big-game pitcher who could win with his B or even C stuff. I agree. Carpenter found ways to win with less than his best. Williams stated that Carpenter’s return for three starts at the end of 2012 gave the Cardinals the boost they needed to secure a Wild Card berth. He lost two of those starts, but he may have jolted the team’s morale at just the right time.
Chris Carpenter was under .500 as a Toronto Blue Jay before 2004, but as a Cardinal, Carpenter is 95-44 (.683). That may be easier to do with the Cardinals than with some other teams because of the offense that he got from Albert Pujols and company, but he would have won many games even without so much pop in the lineup. After all, he has a Cardinals ERA of 3.07.
Even further is Chris Carpenter’s postseason performance. He is 10-4, 3.00 ERA, in 18 postseason games pitching against the best teams in the Majors. He is also a perfect 3-0 in the World Series, which he and the Cardinals won in 2006 and 2011. He pitched the best game of his life in Game 5 of the 2011 NLDS when he bested friend and fellow star Roy Halladay 1-0 to beat the Philadelphia Phillies.
Wins added value
Chris Carpenter’s best year was 2009 when he went 17-4, 2.24. That year, he had a phenomenal 5.0 Win Above Average (WAA) and a Win Above Replacement (WAR) of 6.3 – as a pitcher who plays every five days. Those numbers are 1.9 and 3.5 for his last full season of 2011 – still very solid.
As a Cub fan, it would be far too easy for me to cheer the Cubs’ most heated rival’s loss. However, I will not cheer. We are talking about a man’s health and career here, not just a baseball game. We have never heard anything negative about him in light of the recent controversies over other big-name players.
Chris Carpenter is a true gamer and a great pitcher. If he is finished, then I hate to see him end on such a sour note. He deserves a chance to retire on his own terms. I hope he gets one more chance to do just that – if not this year then in 2014.
Baseball-Reference, Chris Carpenter Player Page, baseball-reference.com
Jennifer Langosch, Cards’ Carpenter Unlikely to Pitch This Season, cardinals.mlb.com.
MLB Network Broadcast, MLB Tonight, February 5, 2013.
Raymond became a baseball fan at a very young age. He played baseball through high school and soon after became a varsity coach. Raymond previously produced radio sports talk shows and hosted a weekly MLB radio call-in show. His favorite teams are the Chicago Cubs and New York Yankees. Follow Raymond on Twitter@RayBureau
Filed Under: Major League Baseball