UPDATE: It’s official, Carpenter is starting on short rest.
Here’s Tony La Russa’s rather simple explanation, via R.B. Fallstrom of the Associated Press:
“He’s the guy our club wants to have out there, and he’s ready to take it. Plain and simple. He’s our guy.”
Tony La Russa might wait until the last possible moment to officially announce tonight’s Game 7 starter, but Matthew Leach of MLB.com reports that the Cardinals will turn to Chris Carpenter on short rest.
Leach tweeted the following shortly after emerging from the Cardinals’ clubhouse last night:
Was told by someone who would most definitely know: “You know who’s starting tomorrow.”
Kyle Lohse has been the scheduled Game 7 starter and Jake Westbrook or Edwin Jackson are other options, but Wednesday night’s rainout pushed everything back by one day and allows La Russa to turn to Carpenter on three days’ rest.
Carpenter had never started on short rest during his entire career until Game 1 of the NLDS versus the Phillies. And he struggled, allowing four runs in three innings while walking three and striking out two. Since then he’s 3-0 with a 2.33 ERA in four starts, including a complete-game shutout against Philadelphia in his follow-up to the short-rest outing.
Generally speaking pitchers starting on short rest have a pretty terrible playoff track record during the past decade or so and Carpenter making just one (poor) short-rest start in 14 seasons as a big leaguer makes him a big question mark, but if he wants the ball and the alternatives are Lohse, Jackson, or Westbrook it’s not hard to see why La Russa would put the entire season in the hands of his ace.