At age 35, Chris Carpenter has been pitching deep into games for the St. Louis Cardinals this season.
Much has been written recently about St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Adam Wainwright’s home success, where he is currently 11-0 with a 1.22 ERA in 12 starts this season. Some excited scribes, including yours truly, passed the mantle of team ace from Chris Carpenter to Waino.
I may have spoken too soon. When the Cardinals clearly needed a stopper after a pair of extremely embarrassing and ugly home losses to the Houston Astros, it was Carpenter who stepped up Wednesday night. Avoiding overexposing a suddenly-leaking bullpen, Carp worked 7 1/3 innings to improve to 12-3 and win for the ninth time in 11 decisions at Busch Stadium.
While Wainwright has averaged just six innings over his most recent four starts, Carpenter has stepped up big. If Carp isn’t the ace, he is clearly the horse of the staff.
As good as Wednesday night’s performance was, it was actually a step down from his previous three outings at Busch, where he went at least eight innings each time. Carp still owns the longest two stretches of home starts of at least eight innings since 1990 and three of the top nine.
The downside? Carpenter is on pace to toss 246 innings this season. A new career high at the age of 35 has to be considered a red flag. Wainwright is not far behind with a projected load of 240 1/3, which would also be a new maximum for him.
All tables are consecutive starts of eight innings or more, courtesy of researcher Tom Orf.
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MLB Network commentator Joe Magrane holds the longest run of eight innings in all starts since 1980 with seven. Carp had a stretch of five during his Cy Young Award campaign in 2005.
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Of course, the master is Hall of Famer Bob Gibson. In “The Year of the Pitcher”, 1968 and through the next year as well, Gibson put together a run of iron-man pitching reminiscent of the early days of baseball.
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