Thought to be out for the season after July surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome, Chris Carpenter came back to go 0-2 with a 3.71 ERA in three starts at the end of the regular seasons. On Wednesday, he picked up his first win in almost a year by shutting out the Nationals for 5 2/3 innings in the Cardinals’ 8-0 victory.
Carpenter’s previous victory came in Game 7 of the 2011 World Series against the Rangers. He went 4-0 with a 3.25 ERA in six starts last October. Adding in today’s effort, Carpenter is 10-2 with a 2.88 ERA in 16 career postseason starts.
Carpenter is now one of 10 pitchers to have 10 career postseason wins. In that group, he ranks fifth in postseason ERA behind Curt Schilling, John Smoltz, Whitey Ford and Dave Stewart. He comes in ahead of David Wells, Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, Andy Pettitte and Roger Clemens.
Of course, Carpenter has a worse regular-season track record than anyone in that group besides Stewart and probably Wells. His already slim Hall of Fame chances took a hit with this year’s injury limiting him to just three starts. Carpenter has been a great pitcher for the Cardinals and a key member of two world champions, but he’s given them just six healthy seasons in nine years with the club. His six years for Toronto early in his career only hinder his case, as he went 49-50 with a 4.83 ERA. As a result, Carpenter is going to enter his age-38 season next year with 144 lifetime victories. If he ends up with 170 wins or so, it’s going to be a tough thing for voters to overlook when it comes time to evaluate his career.