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Chris Carpenter joins exclusive club with 10th postseason win

Oct 10, 2012, 5:55 PM EDT

Chris Carpenter Reuters

Thought to be out for the season after July surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome, Chris Carpenter came back to go 0-2 with a 3.71 ERA in three starts at the end of the regular seasons. On Wednesday, he picked up his first win in almost a year by shutting out the Nationals for 5 2/3 innings in the Cardinals’ 8-0 victory.

Carpenter’s previous victory came in Game 7 of the 2011 World Series against the Rangers. He went 4-0 with a 3.25 ERA in six starts last October. Adding in today’s effort, Carpenter is 10-2 with a 2.88 ERA in 16 career postseason starts.

Carpenter is now one of 10 pitchers to have 10 career postseason wins. In that group, he ranks fifth in postseason ERA behind Curt Schilling, John Smoltz, Whitey Ford and Dave Stewart. He comes in ahead of David Wells, Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, Andy Pettitte and Roger Clemens.

Of course, Carpenter has a worse regular-season track record than anyone in that group besides Stewart and probably Wells. His already slim Hall of Fame chances took a hit with this year’s injury limiting him to just three starts. Carpenter has been a great pitcher for the Cardinals and a key member of two world champions, but he’s given them just six healthy seasons in nine years with the club. His six years for Toronto early in his career only hinder his case, as he went 49-50 with a 4.83 ERA. As a result, Carpenter is going to enter his age-38 season next year with 144 lifetime victories. If he ends up with 170 wins or so, it’s going to be a tough thing for voters to overlook when it comes time to evaluate his career.

  1. sfm073 - Oct 10, 2012 at 6:14 PM

    I’m cardinal fan and I don’t think he stands a chance to make the hof. He’s as big a competitor there’s ever been and he’s been a top 3 pitcher over the past 10 years when healthy, problem he hasn’t been healthy.

    • atom55 - Oct 10, 2012 at 8:43 PM

      2003, 2007, 2008, 2012: Carpenter made a combined total of 7 starts.

      A lot of players have “what ifs” in their career. Carpenter’s is what if he was healthy those years. If had managed to average 15 wins a year (about what he averaged when healthy with the Cards), he’d be over 200 wins in his career.

      Alas…

    • biasedhomer - Oct 10, 2012 at 8:52 PM

      He’s a good pitcher when healthy, but not HOF worthy.
      When you think of the best pitchers of the past decade, Carpenter is not one of the players that comes to mind.

  2. stabonerichard - Oct 10, 2012 at 6:33 PM

    Postseason numbers are neat but they’re sorta like RBIs in the sense it’s mostly a function of opportunity.

    Of the 10 pitchers with 10+ wins, the only two that don’t also rank among the top-10 in postseason starts (i.e. opportunities) are Carp and Boomer Wells.

    Here’s a list of those 10 pitchers, with a breakdown of starts / wins:

    Pettitte: 43 / 19
    Smoltz: 27 / 15
    Glavine: 35 / 14
    Clemens: 34 / 12
    Maddux: 30 / 11
    Schilling: 19 / 11
    Ford: 22 / 10
    Stewart: 18 / 10
    Wells: 17 / 10
    Carpenter: 16 / 10

    Pretty much falls in descending order in both columns, just as you’d expect… with the exception of Smoltz, who picked up a couple victories in relief, but even still his reputation as a big game pitcher was well earned.

    • Matthew Pouliot - Oct 10, 2012 at 7:18 PM

      Nice post. And your list shows why no one views Glavine or Maddux as elite postseason pitchers.

      • atom55 - Oct 10, 2012 at 8:49 PM

        Maddux had a career 3.16 during his career. During the postseason, it shot all the way up too….3.27….against much tougher competition.

      • Matthew Pouliot - Oct 10, 2012 at 8:59 PM

        1) The competition is tougher, but the run-scoring environment is lower. A lot of that is better pitching in the postseason. Some is the fact that managers overcompensate for that better pitching and make a lot of small ball moves.

        2) Maddux was a lot better than that career 3.16 ERA mark during his postseason years. More than 90 percent of his postseason innings came from 1993-2003, and his regular-season ERA was 2.63 during those 11 years.

      • Matthew Pouliot - Oct 10, 2012 at 9:01 PM

        One of those silly small ball things: Maddux issued an intentional walk every 28 innings during the regular season and every 12 innings during the postseason.

      • atom55 - Oct 10, 2012 at 8:51 PM

        I should note that Maddux gave up a whopping 25 unearned runs in 198 innings in his postseason career. I missed that one the first time around.

  3. churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Oct 10, 2012 at 7:07 PM

    If he ends up with 170 wins or so, it’s going to be a tough thing for voters to overlook when it comes time to evaluate his career.

    Whoa, slow down on the HoF train. Comparing two pitchers:

    Pettitte – 3130IP, 245-142, .633 win %, 3.86 ERA, 117 ERA+
    Carpenter – 2219IP, 144-94, .605 win %, 3.76 ERA, 116 ERA+

    Pettitte has 100 more wins, 900 more IP, a far better win % while pitching in a harsher offensive environment, and no one thinks he’s a HoFer outside some homer journalists. What logical reason could there be for Carpenter if Pettitte isn’t viable?

    • Matthew Pouliot - Oct 10, 2012 at 7:15 PM

      FWIW, I think you’ll be surprised by how many people end up looking at Pettitte as a Hall of Famer. Few writers looked at Jack Morris as a Hall of Famer five years after he retired (he barely made 20% of the ballots his first three years) yet now he’s dangerously close to being elected.

      I’m not saying that to support Carpenter’s case. Carpenter doesn’t really have any case at the moment.

  4. stabonerichard - Oct 10, 2012 at 8:14 PM

    I think Andy will get plenty of HOF consideration, thanks in large part to his (and the Yanks’) playoff success.

    Postseason baseball is an interesting beast in general, with small samples where things break a certain way and public perception is formed. Pettitte & Mussina are an interesting example of this…
     
    Pettitte: 43 postseason starts, 6 and 1/3 IP per start, 3.80 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, 5.9 K/9, 2.4 K/BB
    Moose: 21 postseason starts, 6 and 1/3 IP per start, 3.42 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 9.3 K/9, 4.4 K/BB
     
    Pettitte has been consistent, with his postseason output nearly matching his regular season performance, which is a pretty impressive feat to handle the pressure & top competition of the postseason and keep on keepin’ on. But the overall team success, including numerous WS rings, really catapulted him to legendary status. He’s widely perceived as a postseason stalwart with ice in his veins, when he’s really just been regular ol’ Andy Pettitte.
     
    Then there’s Mussina, who was brought over to NY just after they’d won their 4th ring in 5 seasons. He got there just in time for the Yanks’ mini-drought, and wound up retiring the year before they eventually won their next title. And fate would be especially cruel in Moose’s final year, as despite winning 20 games for the only time in his career it would be the only year the Yanks would miss the playoffs entirely in the past 18 seasons.
     
    So that’s just the way it goes. Playoff baseball is exciting, unpredictable and wacky stuff can happen… that we usually put too much stock in when it comes to assessing a player’s overall career. For Pettitte, I don’t think he’ll end up being enshrined but his postseason accomplishments will give him an outside shot.

    • stabonerichard - Oct 10, 2012 at 8:32 PM

      And I didn’t really tie all that together well, so I’ll add…

      Mussina, in my view, clearly should be a Hall of Famer but might face an uphill road due to his lack of accolades and overall *Fame*.

      Meanwhile, Andy really shouldn’t even be on the bubble but his (and the Yanks’) postseason success will give him an outside shot.

      I get that the Hall of Fame is about more than just numbers, and guys should get a boost for what happens on the biggest stage, but fans/voters tend to get carried away with these things.

    • okwhitefalcon - Oct 10, 2012 at 8:49 PM

      I think Pettitte’s numbers would’ve given him a shot but the only way he’s seeing the indside of Cooperstown is going to be as a visitor.

      The whole convicted PED user, rat and misremberer thing will immediately void him of consideration from more than a few voters minds.

  5. salvomania - Oct 10, 2012 at 8:17 PM

    Pettitte…a far better win % while pitching in with harsher offensive environment far better offenses behind him.

    Fixed that.

    • salvomania - Oct 10, 2012 at 8:19 PM

      Shoot, knew I’d screw up the HTML:

      Pettitte…a far better win % while pitching in with harsher offensive environment far better offenses behind him.

  6. paperlions - Oct 10, 2012 at 8:25 PM

    Carpenter shouldn’t get any HOF consideration. I love the guy, but that’s just silly.

    I guess Pettite is “in the conversation”, he’s probably actually under appreciated…but traditionally, HOF voters are VERY demanding of starting pitchers to get voted in (with a few very puzzling notable exceptions….I mean, there must be at least 50 pitchers that were better and more valuable to their teams than Jack Morris was to his that never even got a single vote).

  7. spetznaz777 - Oct 10, 2012 at 9:21 PM

    HOF or not at the end of it no. 29 is gonna be on that wall in busch stadium and thats all that really matters.

    • salvomania - Oct 10, 2012 at 9:47 PM

      Actually, only retired numbers (or deceased team owners) go up on the wall at Busch… and I don’t see the Cardinals retiring No. 29…

      • atom55 - Oct 11, 2012 at 9:34 AM

        Ken Boyer’s number is retired, and he is not in the hall.

        He’s the only one though.

  8. stlouis1baseball - Oct 11, 2012 at 11:44 AM

    Is Carp a HOF player? Doubt it. Injuries…not gonna’ have enough wins….his time is Toronto. All of these things hinder his chances just like the ”dipwad” stated.
    However, should there be a postseason HOF he would be 1st Ballot.
    Even moreso…if there were a “tough as nails…Warrior” HOF I don’t know of a better candidate.
    Good Article ”dipwad!”

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