144 regular-season wins wouldn’t typically get a starting pitcher within shouting distance of Cooperstown. With two stellar postseason performances for World Series-winning teams, though, 36-year-old Chris Carpenter is starting to build a case for eventual enshrinement in the Hall of Fame.
Carpenter’s win on three days’ rest in Friday’s Game 7 against the Rangers improved him to 9-2 in 15 career postseason starts. He has a 3.05 ERA in 94 1/3 innings in those games. In four World Series starts, he’s 3-0 with a 2.00 ERA.
Carpenter obviously is going to need at least a couple of more successful seasons in order to have a shot. His case would get a clear boost if Curt Schilling receives strong support when he turns eligible on the 2013 ballot. Schilling’s case gets much of its momentum from his going 11-2 with a 2.23 ERA in 19 postseason starts and pitching for three World Series-winning teams.
Schilling also has a clear edge on Carpenter in the regular season. He finished his career 216-146 with a 3.46 ERA, good for a 128 ERA+ (ERA adjusted for league and ballpark, with 100 being average). Carpenter is currently 144-92 with a 3.76 ERA, which gives him a 116 ERA+.
Carpenter and Schilling both really turned the corner in their careers at age 30. A big difference, though, is that while Schilling got far healthier in his 30s than he was in his 20s, Carpenter missed almost entire seasons in 2007 and 2008. Carpenter has really only had three Hall of Fame-type seasons, and neither his 2010 nor 2011 campaigns measure up to that standard.
So, Carpenter is still a big long shot at this point. He’ll probably need another 50-60 wins and some additional postseason success to be a realistic candidate, particularly given how unkind the voters have been to starting pitchers in recent years. Incredibly, no starting pitcher to debut in the last 40 years has been elected to the Hall of Fame.
After 71 years, the Cubs are headed back to the Fall Classic.
The dominance with which Clayton Kershaw attacked the Cubs in Game 2 of the NLCS was nonexistent in Game 6 as the Dodgers’ ace loaded the bases to start the first inning and scattered five extra bases and five runs over five frames. By the time Dave Roberts pulled his starter in the sixth inning, Kershaw was sitting on a Game Score of 33, the lowest he’s mustered since the start of the 2015 season. Only one of his strikes came via curveball, and whether he was having difficulty locating his off-speed stuff or felt more confident with the fastball-slider combo, it was the fewest curves he’d seen land for strikes all year (per David Adler).
Where the Dodgers were able to give Kershaw the edge in Game 2, they found themselves powerless against opposing hurler Kyle Hendricks. Hendricks turned out 7 1/3 scoreless frames with two hits and six strikeouts, preserving the Cubs’ second shutout of the postseason and the first since they bested the Giants in Game 1 of the NLDS. After his 1-0 loss to the Dodgers early in the NLCS, seeing the MLB ERA leader turn out a gem was a relief for the Cubs, especially one as spectacular as an 88-pitch two-hitter.
With Hendricks effectively stymieing the Dodgers’ best attempts to get on base, the Cubs played to their strengths at the plate. Kris Bryant and Ben Zobrist cleared the bases in the first inning for a two-run lead, followed by a Dexter Fowler RBI single in the second. Willson Contreras came through in the fourth inning for the Cubs, lifting an 87 m.p.h. slider to left field for his first home run of October, while Anthony Rizzo hit his second homer of the postseason on a 1-1 fastball in the fifth.
Neither bullpen allowed a single run from the sixth inning onward. Dodgers’ right-hander Kenley Jansen took the ball from Kershaw in the sixth, scattering four strikeouts over three innings and denying the Cubs so much as a single baserunner through the end of the game. Aroldis Chapman, meanwhile, issued just one walk in 1 1/3 scoreless frames, inducing a Yasiel Puig double play to clinch the Cubs’ 17th franchise pennant.
With the win, the Cubs will face off against the Indians in Game 1 of the World Series on Tuesday at 8 PM EDT. And, in case you needed a reminder:
So much for Clayton Kershaw posing a threat tonight. The Cubs got their knocks in early and often against the Dodgers’ ace during Game 6 of the NLCS, racking up three runs in the first three innings before rookie catcher Willson Contreras unleashed his first postseason home run in the bottom of the fourth inning.
According to MLB.com’s Phil Rogers, Contreras became the 10th Cub to homer in the 2016 playoffs, following big hits by Addison Russell, Anthony Rizzo, Dexter Fowler, Miguel Montero, David Ross, Jake Arrieta, Kris Bryant, Travis Wood, and Javier Baez. Of the ten home run hitters, Contreras joins catchers David Ross and Miguel Montero as yet another backstop capable of driving the long ball (and, less importantly, as another player capable of a sweet, sweet bat flip).
Rizzo, whose last homer was a deep drive to right field off of Los Angeles right-hander Pedro Baez in Game 4 of the NLCS, piled on Kershaw’s five-run outing with another home run in the bottom of the fifth inning. Kershaw called it a night after five frames, and the Cubs currently lead the Dodgers 5-0 in the sixth inning.