With ninth postseason win, Chris Carpenter makes a Hall of Fame case

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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.

James Paxton will “nerd out big-time” to stay healthy next year

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To the surprise of, well, very few, the Mariners didn’t make the cut for the postseason this year. While they threw their hats in the ring for a wild card berth, their pitching staff just couldn’t stay healthy, from the handful of pitchers who contracted season-ending injuries in spring training to Felix Hernandez‘s shoulder bursitis to structural damage in Hisashi Iwakuma‘s right shoulder. Left-hander James Paxton missed 79 days with a lingering head cold, strained left forearm and pectoral strain. Heading into the 2018 season, the lefty told MLB.com’s Greg Johns that he plans to “nerd out big-time” in order to prepare for a healthy, consistent run with the club.

So far, Johns reports, that entails a new diet and workout program, hot yoga sessions and blood testing. “I just think there’s more I can do,” Paxton said. “I haven’t done the blood testing before. Finding out if there’s something I don’t know about myself. It’s just about learning and trying to find what works for me.”

When healthy, the 28-year-old southpaw was lights-out for the Mariners. He helped stabilize the front end of the rotation with a 12-5 record in 24 starts and supplemented his efforts with a 2.98 ERA, 2.4 BB/9 and 10.3 SO/9 through 136 innings. Despite taking multiple trips to the disabled list, he built up 4.6 fWAR — the most wins above replacement he’s compiled in any season of his career to date. Had he not been felled by a pectoral injury in mid-August — one that came with a five-week trip to the disabled list — the club might have been been able to make a bigger push for the playoffs.

Of course, even if Paxton manages to stay healthy next season, the Mariners still have the rest of the rotation to worry about. They cycled through 17 starters in 2017 and tied the 2014 Rangers with 40 total pitchers over the course of the season. Per GM Jerry Dipoto, their top four starters (Paxton, Hernandez, Iwakuma, and Tommy John candidate Drew Smyly) only contributed 17% of total innings pitched, just a tad below the 40% average. Finding adequate big league arms and compensating for injured aces (both current and former) will be tough. Still, getting a healthy, dominant Paxton back on the mound for 30+ starts would be a huge get for the team — whether or not the postseason is in their future next year.