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Brian Walton's news and commentary on the St. Louis Cardinals (TM) and their minor league system

Are expectations for Carpenter too high?

While I certainly understand the reasons for it, the widespread excitement over the 2012 debut of Chris Carpenter at Chicago’s Wrigley Field on Friday afternoon has me a bit concerned.

I fear that some have raised their expectations too high, set up for disappointment if the 37-year-old right-hander demonstrates rust after not having pitched competitively in 11 months.

Sure, Carpenter has thrown a handful of simulated games, working up his pitch count each time, but there is a difference between simulations and the real thing. In its essence, those outings had to serve as Carp’s condensed spring training.

Carpenter has logged good career numbers against the National League Central and the Cubs specifically…

However, there is one big difference. He is not just coming off an extended off-season – he is trying to bounce back from major surgery less than two months ago, as well.

I have no qualms about how the Cardinals have brought Carpenter along. It seems to have been a patient, measured approach, keeping risk minimized. Yet no one knows what to expect Friday.

Even without Carpenter, the club’s starting pitching seems to have improved over the past week. It is not that he isn’t needed and welcome – after all, he is a former Cy Young Award winner and post-season hero – but the Cards have been hanging in the wild card race without him, showing admirable resiliency in the process.

It seems to me that Carpenter offers the potential for a tasty dessert to be added to an already filling meal. The 2012 Cardinals have progressed this far without Carpenter – a 2.5 game wild card lead with 12 games to go – so their season will not be ruined if he does not exhibit playoff form in his long-delayed season opener.

What would you consider an acceptable first outing?

How many innings do you expect from Carpenter?

  • Five (63%, 15 Votes)
  • Four (17%, 4 Votes)
  • Three or less (13%, 3 Votes)
  • Six (4%, 1 Votes)
  • Seven (4%, 1 Votes)
  • Eight (0%, 0 Votes)
  • A complete game (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 24

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How many runs maximum do you expect Carpenter to allow?

  • Two (40%, 8 Votes)
  • Three (25%, 5 Votes)
  • Four (20%, 4 Votes)
  • Five (10%, 2 Votes)
  • One (5%, 1 Votes)
  • None (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Six or more (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 20

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Brian Walton

Brian Walton runs The Cardinal Nation and The Cardinal Nation Blog, covering the St. Louis Cardinals and minor league system.
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19 Responses to “Are expectations for Carpenter too high?”

  1. crdswmn says:

    I don’t have any expectations. I’m sure they will have Miller or Rosenthal ready to go if he gets into trouble and I am imagine the leash will be short. I am just excited to see him pitch again, even if the outing is short.

  2. crdswmn says:

    Hey Brian do you know what is going on with the 40 man roster? Carp was activated without taking anyone off and I count 41 with Carp added. Was someone removed that wasn’t announced?

  3. Brian Walton says:

    Congrats, voters. You not only had the number of innings pitched and runs allowed exactly right, a few weeks back, you also selected Shelby Miller as Carp’s tandem partner. Impressive!

  4. Bw52 says:

    Damn bullpen.Tough loss.

    • Brian Walton says:

      I think the management of the pen has to be questioned as well. Using Miller and Rosenthal for a total of only three outs really bit them at the end (and in the end). They couldn’t beat the Astros at home without using Motte every day so he is not available to close, Boggs also unavailable, etc…

      • JumboShrimp says:

        The Cards could have added Cleto and Browning during September. Two more arms to spread out the workload. Both men ended their Memphis seasons with decently. They might have been able to adsorb a little workload that has been heaped on a few guys.

        • Brian Walton says:

          The Cards added as many extra pitchers this September as in the previous two years combined.

          This year, Miller, Marte and Freeman were added. Last year, it was just Dickson and Cleto. In 2010, just Walters.

          • JumboShrimp says:

            Marte is on the roster, but Matheny has lost confidence, maybe with reason, so he is little used.
            There is not anything wrong with having a third lefty in the pen, who could be Browning, who had a sub 2 ERA at Memphis this year.

  5. crdswmn says:

    I said this on Twitter and I will say it again. The main source of this team’s troubles in the last month is our offense not doing it’s job. When you consistently fail to hit with RISP and and take terrible at bats, over and over and over again, you put your pitching in a terrible position. I am not a hitting expert, so I will only say that to me they look like they are guessing on every pitch, not waiting for pitches in their zone and just generally not adjusting to the opponent’s pitching approach.

  6. JumboShrimp says:

    Great job by Chris Carpenter. Sam Freeman has been good, too, since his return to the majors.

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