Chris “When He’s Healthy, He’s Virtually Unhittable” Carpenter: NL Cy Young Favorite?

Chris Carpenter - St. Louis Cardinals - 2009 NL Cy Young CandidateA week ago Monday night, as Chris Carpenter labored through his first two innings at Dodger Stadium, the ESPN commentators claimed “something wasn’t right.” Apparently they were wrong, as Carpenter dominated the NL’s best team the rest of the way en route to eight innings of two run ball and another win.
My father, who attended the game and has watched baseball for nearly 60 years, emailed me the following morning:

“This guy is a classic pitcher – gets stronger as game goes on, which is rare these days.”

Carpenter was strong again all Saturday night on San Diego — seven shutout innings on just three hits — prompting this Sunday afternoon email from a good friend who works in the Padres scouting department:

“When he’s healthy, he’s virtually unhittable.  Completely shut us down on Saturday.”

Chris Carpenter - St. Louis Cardinals - 2009 NL Cy Young Candidate
Carpenter’s continued success has enabled Tony Larussa to confidently “bump him up” to start this Thursday afternoon vs. Houston due to injuries in St. Louis’ back end of the rotation. There, “Carp” will seek his seventh consecutive win. He has not lost a decision since July 22, and despite missing over a month, is now tied for the NL lead in wins at 14. 
Chris Carpenter - St. Louis Cardinals - 2009 NL Cy Young CandidateChris has the league’s lowest ERA as well, putting him, in my view, in the driver’s seat for Cy Young — though many believe Tim Lincecum is right there as well. Lincecum has struggled his last four starts and, even with four extra starts, has two fewer wins and a higher ERA than does the durable St. Louis righty. It’s therefore Carpenter’s to lose, though the media has been favoring Lincecum all season to this point.
Not bad for a 34 year old who basically missed the past two seasons entirely after a World Series winning season (2006) and Cy Young prior (2005).
I shall endeavor to personally watch the potential two-time Cy Young winner Labor Day weekend in Pittsburgh.

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* – Chris Carpenter fist pump photo credit: Mike Shannon’s Cardinals Blog

* – Chris Carpenter cap wave photo credit: Arches and Ivey

About the Author

AJ Kaufman

A former schoolteacher and military historian, A.J. now works in public relations. As an MSF columnist since 2009, he supports anything baseball-related. Raised in San Diego, A.J. has since resided in numerous parts of America, including Colorado, Florida, Indiana, Maryland, Minnesota, Nebraska, New York, Ohio and Washington State. After departing the coasts in 2005, he's traveled the back roads of all 50 states and prefers the Heartland. Married to Maria, A.J. is the author of three books and enjoys reading presidential biographies.