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.