Chris Carpenter is starting Game 7 on short rest

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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.”

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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.

Padres may have more interest in Dallas Keuchel than Bryce Harper

Dallas Keuchel
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An interesting tidbit today from The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal, who noted that ongoing talks between agent Scott Boras and the Padres have focused more on starting pitcher Dallas Keuchel than slugger Bryce Harper. Earlier this week, there were conflicting reports on the Padres’ level of interest in Harper — MLB Network’s Jon Heyman heard the club had not ruled out another big signing after getting Manny Machado, while Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune talked to multiple sources who believed otherwise — but any agreement between the two is looking unlikelier by the day.

As for Keuchel, Rosenthal cautions that a potential deal is still a “longshot,” especially as the team has other, cheaper options in mind. The 31-year-old southpaw turned down a qualifying offer from the Astros last year and is likely angling for something north of the five-year, $90 million contract extension he rejected from the club in 2016. He’s coming off of another solid performance in Houston, where he went 12-11 in 34 starts with a 3.74 ERA, 2.6 BB/9, 6.7 SO/9, and 3.6 fWAR through 204 2/3 innings in 2018.

While Keuchel has failed to garner substantial interest around the league this offseason, Heyman points out that the Phillies are looking to establish themselves as frontrunners for the lefty — and they’re far less likely to have hang-ups about his asking price, too.