St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Chris Carpenter came into Wednesday with just two wins in 16 starts this season and had been victimized at times by poor bullpen support.
On one hand, with the short-handed pen in flux, one can understand why manager Tony La Russa left his starter in Wednesday night for a season-high 132 pitches in the complete game, 5-1 win over the Baltimore Orioles.
On the other hand, Carpenter is being ridden hard. The veteran right-hander has thrown over 120 pitches in each of last three starts. In his entire previous seven years with the Cardinals, he threw that many pitches in a game only four times.
132 pitches is Carpenter’s second-highest pitch count ever, with his career high of 134 achieved during his sophomore season of 1998. Carpenter was 23 years old at the time.
Now 36 years of age, Carpenter has never gone more than three full seasons as a major leaguer without suffering some type of injury. He remained off the disabled list for most of 2009 and all of 2010 when his 35 starts led Major League Baseball.
In his prior life with the Toronto Blue Jays from 1997 through 2002, a much younger Carp threw 120 or more pitches 14 times. With his now seven such starts with the Cardinals, his career total is 21 games of at least 120 pitches.
Interestingly, Wednesday night was the first of Carpenter’s five 125-plus pitch games in which he was the winner.
Thanks to researcher Tom Orf, here are Carpenter’s previous 20 starts in which he threw 120 or more pitches.
|1||6/2/1998||TOR||BOS||L 3-11||GS-8 ,L||7||8||7||7||2||6||2||134||79||39||33||31|
|3||8/16/1999||TOR||SEA||L 5-7||GS-7 ,L||6||7||4||4||9||5||0||131||70||40||34||24|
|4||7/13/2000||TOR||PHI||L 5-8||GS-8 ,L||7||10||8||8||2||4||2||129||79||29||34||32|
|5||8/26/1998||TOR||KCR||L 2-7||GS-8 ,L||8||11||5||5||0||6||1||126||85||46||34||34|
|T6||6/23/2011||STL||PHI||W 12-2||GS-7 ,W||7||5||1||1||1||7||0||124||80||69||27||26|
|T6||6/17/2011||STL||KCR||L 4-5||GS-8 ,L||8||10||5||4||1||7||0||124||83||50||36||32|
|T6||10/6/2001||TOR||CLE||W 5-2||GS-8 ,W||7||5||2||2||4||8||1||124||82||65||31||27|
|9||6/14/2000||TOR||DET||W 8-1||GS-8 ,W||8||9||1||1||6||7||0||123||71||61||38||32|
|T10||9/26/2006||STL||SDP||L 5-7||GS-7 ,L||7||12||6||6||2||6||0||122||75||33||34||31|
|T10||8/26/2004||STL||CIN||L 0-1||CG 8 ,L||8||3||1||1||1||11||1||122||80||82||28||27|
|T10||6/9/2001||TOR||FLA||L 1-6||CG 9 ,L||9||9||6||3||6||5||1||122||73||50||42||33|
|T10||7/16/1998||TOR||CHW||W 5-2||GS-8 ,W||8||4||2||2||1||10||0||122||80||75||29||27|
|T15||5/6/1999||TOR||OAK||L 2-3||CG 9 ,L||9||6||3||3||1||7||1||121||82||69||33||31|
|T15||9/1/1998||TOR||KCR||W 2-1||GS-7 ,W||7||4||1||1||3||6||0||121||76||68||27||23|
|T18||9/3/2005||STL||HOU||W 4-2||CG 9 ,W||9||8||2||2||2||8||1||120||78||69||36||33|
|T18||6/24/2004||STL||CHC||W 4-0||GS-8 ,W||8||7||0||0||1||9||0||120||82||76||31||30|
|T18||7/1/2001||TOR||BOS||L 0-4||GS-8 ,L||7||6||3||3||2||6||2||120||79||59||29||26|
|T18||5/1/1999||TOR||SEA||W 9-3||GS-6 ,W||5||9||3||3||4||3||1||120||71||38||29||24|
Only time will tell how many more such outings Carpenter has remaining in his talented right arm. While the Cardinals hold an option on his services for 2012, the $15 million price tag may prove prohibitive.