Chris Carpenter on the verge of rejoining Cardinals rotation

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Chris Carpenter’s miraculous comeback from what was supposed to be season-ending thoracic outlet syndrome surgery is nearly complete, with just one more hurdle to clear before rejoining the Cardinals’ rotation.

Carpenter is scheduled to throw a 90-pitch simulated game Saturday and Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com reports that “barring any surprise development Carpenter is set to make his season debut next week.”

Carpenter last started for the Cardinals in Game 7 of the World Series. He pitched that night on three days’ rest and logged a grand total of 273 innings between the regular season and playoffs at age 36.

He was shut down during spring training after experiencing numbness in his arm and neck. Surgery in July was expected to knock him out for all of this season and put his status for 2013 in question, but Carpenter told Langosch that he was holding out hope for a quicker return all along:

I went into [surgery] strong enough and knew that if I came out of it strong enough, I thought there was a chance. My goal the whole time was to be prepared to let these guys know how I felt at the end of the season so they could go into the offseason knowing what they could count on me for next season.

In other words, even Carpenter never imagined starting multiple key games down the stretch this year, which is exactly what may happen if he can get through tomorrow’s session healthy.

Justin Verlander earns 200th career win

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Astros starter Justin Verlander wasn’t his usual dominant self on Sunday against the Athletics, but he was good enough to get the win. In doing so, he earned the 200th win of his career, becoming the 117th member of the 200-win club.

Verlander went 5 1/3 innings, yielding four runs (all earned) on seven hits and a walk with six strikeouts. On the season, Verlander is now 12-8 with a 2.65 ERA and a 223/29 K/BB ratio in 169 2/3 innings. Sunday’s win helped the Astros stave off the surging A’s. The Astros now have a one-game lead in the AL West.

Only two active pitchers have more wins than Verlander: Bartolo Colon (247) and CC Sabathia (244). Zack Greinke will likely be the next member of the 200-win club as he currently has 184 to his name.