Chris Carpenter

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Chris Carpenter
Chris carpenter 10 1 2009 7803.jpg
Pitcher
Born: (1975-04-27) April 27, 1975 (age 38)
Exeter, New Hampshire
Batted: Right Threw: Right
MLB debut
May 12, 1997 for the Toronto Blue Jays
Last MLB appearance
October 2, 2012 for the St. Louis Cardinals
Career statistics
Win–loss record 144–94
Earned run average 3.76
Strikeouts 1,697
Teams
Career highlights and awards

Christopher John Carpenter (born April 27, 1975) is an American former Major League baseball (MLB) starting pitcher.12 During his 15-year career, Carpenter pitched for the Toronto Blue Jays and the St. Louis Cardinals. Drafted by Toronto in the first round of the 1993 Major League Baseball Draft, Carpenter broke into the majors as a 22 year-old highly-regarded prospect in 1997 and pitched for Toronto until the end of the 2002 season. However, injuries and ineffectiveness delayed a promising career as Carpenter managed a 4.83 earned run average (ERA) in 870 innings pitched (IP) and 135 games started. The Blue Jays released him after the 2002 season.

Carpenter found new life when the Cardinals signed him as a free agent before the 2003 season. In 2004, he posted a 3.46 ERA and won 15 games while pitching 182 innings as the Cardinals won 105 games. The next season, he won a Cy Young Award with a 2.83 ERA while winning 21 games, striking out 213 and leading the National League (NL) with seven complete games. Carpenter started 32 games in 2006 as he won his first World Series. However, he missed nearly all of 2007 and 2008 to injury including Tommy John surgery. He played nearly all of 2009 while leading the NL in ERA (2.24). In 2011, Carpenter pitched two shutout clinchers, becoming the first pitcher to do so as he won his second World Series. Thoracic outlet syndrome took him out of action for nearly all of 2012 and ultimately ended his career.

Pitching his final nine seasons for the Cardinals, Carpenter won a Cy Young Award, election to three All-Star Games, 95 regular-season victories, 10 postseason victories and a 3.07 ERA in 197 starts and 1348 23 IP. Although he proved instrumental in two World Series championships, his perseverance in returning to play from multiple episodes of complex and career-threatening injuries also gained much notoriety.

Early life and amateur career

Chris Carpenter is from Exeter, New Hampshire. While attending Trinity High School in Manchester, New Hampshire, his team won the 1992 state championship. In his senior campaign in 1993, he earned Athlete of the Year honors.3

Draft and minor leagues (1994–97)

The Toronto Blue Jays selected Carpenter in the first round and 15th overall pick of the 1993 MLB draft.3 Carpenter began his pro career with the Medicine Hat Blue Jays of the short-season Pioneer League in 1994. In his professional debut against the Great Falls Dodgers, he tossed six scoreless innings of one-hit ball, fanning nine along the way. He ended the season with a won–lost record of 6–3 and turned in the league's third-lowest earned run average (ERA). He was also picked as the Pioneer League's number-three prospect by league managers, behind Aaron Boone and Ray Brown.

Toronto Blue Jays (1997–2002)

Carpenter made his Major League debut as a starter against the Minnesota Twins on May 12, 1997, pitching three innings in a 12–2 loss. He lost his first five decisions before defeating the Chicago White Sox 6–5 on August 19. He pitched his first career complete game and shutout on September 9 as Toronto defeated the Anaheim Angels 2–0. Carpenter finished his rookie season with a 3–7 record and a 5.09 ERA.

After making two starts to begin the 1998 season, pitching a combined 10 innings and 9.00 ERA, the Blue Jays moved Carpenter into the bullpen, where he stayed until the end of May. Toronto moved Carpenter back into the starting rotation, and he won six of his last seven decisions as the Blue Jays made a late push for a playoff spot. However, Toronto missed the playoffs, finishing four games behind the Boston Red Sox for the AL wild card. With a 12–7 record and 4.37 ERA, his 12 wins tied Pat Hentgen for the second-highest total on the club.

Carpenter suffered an injury-plagued 1999 season, as he made only 24 starts, finishing with a 9–8 record with a 4.38 ERA. He struggled even more the next season. At the beginning of August, after posting a 7–10 record with a 6.99 ERA, he was pulled out of the starting rotation and placed into the bullpen.4 Carpenter returned to the rotation after a few weeks, and improved in September to finish the season with a 10–12 record and a 6.26 ERA. However, in his final start that season, he was the losing pitcher in a 23–1 defeat by the Baltimore Orioles after yielding four earned runs in three innings.5

The 2001 season brought improved results. At the end of June, Carpenter had a 7–4 record with a 3.67 ERA. However, he lost his next seven decisions in ten starts to fall to 7–11 and a 4.59 ERA. Carpenter rebounded from this slump to finish with a record of 11–11 and an ERA of 4.09. His 11 victories tied him with Esteban Loaiza and Paul Quantrill for the team high. Along with Roy Halladay, Carpenter was considered of the starters of the future for the Blue Jays.6

Carpenter was named the Blue Jays opening day starter in 2002 on April 1 at Fenway Park against the Red Sox. He was rocked in this start, recording 2 13 innings and allowing six runs. He received a no-decision as Toronto prevailed, 12–11. The Blue Jays placed him on the disabled list (DL) due to a shoulder injury after that start. Making his second start on April 21, Carpenter lasted only three innings, allowing three runs against the New York Yankees. He took the loss as New York won, 9–2.

Carpenter once again was placed on the disabled list, where he remained until late June. He was back on the DL in August for the third time that season, where he remained for the rest of the season. Shoulder surgery followed in September to repair a torn glenoid labrum. Surgeons inserted three tacks to anchor the labrum.7 Carpenter finished the year 4–5 with a 5.28 ERA. At the end of the season, the Blue Jays removed him from the 40-man roster and offered him a minor league, incentive-based deal. Carpenter refused, allowing him to become a free agent.8

St. Louis Cardinals (2003–13)

Carpenter with the Cardinals

2003–06

The Cardinals signed Carpenter prior to the 2003 season, hoping he would be ready by mid-season.9 However, the pins anchoring the labrum destabilized, forming scar tissue that resulted in another surgery and DL stay for the entire 2003 season.7

Fully recovered for the next season, Carpenter finally saw the breakthrough in which his performance matched his former billing as a top prospect. He established career highs in victories (15), ERA (3.46), strikeouts per nine innings pitched (K/9, at 7.5) and allowed less than one hit per inning for the first time as a Major Leaguer. Carpenter's 1.137 walks plus hits per inning pitched (WHIP) was fourth in the league, 1.879 bases on balls per 9 innings pitched (BB/9) sixth and his strikeout-to-walk ratio (K/BB) of 4.000 placed fifth.10 He helped bolster a staff that finished second in the NL in ERA (3.75), driving the Cardinals to a league-high 105 wins, their most since 1944. They won the NL pennant for the first time since 1987.11 Still, he did not escape completely free of injury as a nerve problem in the right biceps benched him in September, ending the season early and causing him to miss the 2004 World Series.

In 2005, Carpenter continued on the success he found the year before. On June 14, he threw a one-hit shutout against the team that drafted him, the Toronto Blue Jays.12 The next month, he became the first Cardinal pitcher in 32 years to start an All-Star Game, which took place at Comerica Park in Detroit.13 He set career bests in ERA (2.83), strikeouts (213), innings pitched (241 23), complete games (7) and shutouts (4) while amassing a 21–5 record for the Central division champion Cardinals. Helping to lead a staff of a Cardinals team that won 100 games, Carpenter was finally healthy to pitch in the post-season. Although they lost to the Houston Astros in the National League Championship Series (NLCS), Carpenter's record was 2–0 with a 2.14 ERA in 21 IP against the San Diego Padres and Houston. While not a leader in any one major statistical category in 2005, he was selected over Dontrelle Willis for the National League Cy Young Award. By winning the Cy Young, he became just the second pitcher in team history after Bob Gibson to win the award.

Carpenter's health continued to sustain throughout the 2006 season. On June 13, he struck out a career-high 13 batters against the Pittsburgh Pirates.14 He was voted to his second All-Star Game in July.15 Carpenter became the third member of the St. Louis Cardinals pitching staff to get his 100th career win in 2006, joining Jeff Suppan and Mark Mulder. He defeated the San Francisco Giants 6–1 on September 16 for this milestone.16 For the season, he posted a 3.09 ERA with 15 wins in 221 23 IP. He three shutouts led the Major Leagues and 1.069 walks plus hits per inning pitched (WHIP) led the National League.

With the Cardinals again facing the Padres in the NLDS, Carpenter won both his starts and yielded a 2.03 ERA while striking out 12 in 13 13 IP. He was less effective against the New York Mets in the NLCS, allowing a 5.73 ERA while losing one of two starts. In the World Series, Carpenter made his first start in Game 3 against the Detroit Tigers on October 24 at Busch Stadium in St. Louis. He pitched eight shutout innings, allowing no runs on three hits and striking out six. In his first eight career post-season starts, he had a 5–1 record with a 2.53 ERA in 53 13 innings. Carpenter finished third in the Cy Young balloting behind Brandon Webb and Trevor Hoffman.15 On December 4, 2006, the Cardinals announced they resigned Carpenter to a five-year, US$65 million deal, keeping him with the team through 2011, with a $12 million option for 2012.17

2007–09

In 2007, Carpenter pitched only one game. After an opening day loss to the Mets on April 1, Carpenter was sidelined with elbow problems and the team announced on May 5 that he would need surgery to trim bone spurs. As Carpenter was attempting to return from elbow surgery, further problems developed and on July 19, the Cardinals announced that he needed Tommy John Surgery and would be sidelined for at least 12 months. On July 30, 2008, Carpenter returned to a major league mound, making his first Major League start since Opening Day, 2007, against the Atlanta Braves. He lasted four innings, gave up one run on five hits (all singles), walking two and striking out two, on 67 pitches (36 strikes).18 Though Carpenter got the no decision, the Cardinals went on to win the game 7–2.

After making only one start in 2007, and only three starts in the 2008 season, Carpenter gave a stunning one-hit performance in his first start of the 2009 season against Pittsburgh, shutting them out in seven innings, walking two while striking out seven at Busch Stadium. He faced only 26 batters, five over the minimum, and threw 92 pitches—61 for strikes.19 It was his 101st career win, against only 70 losses (.591 win pct.).

Pitching against Arizona on April 14, 2009, he strained his left rib-cage after batting in the top of the fourth inning, had to be taken out of the game after trying to pitch in the bottom half.20

He was placed on the 15-day disabled list April 15, and the initial estimate was for him to be out from four to eight weeks pending an MRI and evaluation the next day;21 the MRI revealed an oblique tear on his left side.22

On May 20, Carpenter returned after missing a month. He pitched five shutout innings giving up only three hits, walking two, and striking out five. He threw only 67 pitches, 41 for strikes. The Cards won the pitching duel with the Cubs, 2–1.2324 With his win, Carpenter raised his winning percentage with the club to .726 (53–20), highest ever by a Cardinal through his first 100 starts. Further, he boasted a 3.04 ERA (230 ER in 680.2 IP) for his Cardinal career to that point. John Tudor was the previous win percentage leader after 100 starts (49–21 .700) as a Cardinal. Carpenter's four strikeouts gave him 571 in his 100th start, one less than Bob Gibson had in his first 100 starts.2526

On June 4, he threw his 26th career complete game, and lowered his ERA for the season to 0.71, the lowest for any Cardinals' pitcher in the first six starts of a season, breaking Harry Brecheen's mark of 0.75 set in 1948.27 A 7–0 victory over San Diego at Petco Park on August 22 gave him an NL-tying 14th win, was the unofficial 10,000th win in the Cardinals' all-time franchise history, dating back to the American Association era. The official total at the time was 9,219.28

Carpenter won his first Pitcher of the Month award (August 2009) with his 5–0, 2.20 ERA in six starts.29 He threw a one-hitter in his next start (September 7) against the Brewers at Miller Park, striking out 10, and earning his first shutout since September 11, 2006.30

On October 1, Carpenter hit his first career home run, a grand slam, in a 13–0 rout of the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati. He drove in two more runs in the game with a double, making him only the fourth pitcher since the advent of divisional play in 1969 to have at least six runs batted in (RBI) in a game. His six RBI also broke the Cardinals' club record for pitchers which Bob Gibson held. Gibson recorded five RBI on July 26, 1973.3132

For the second time in his career, he won the NL Comeback Player of the Year, after leading the NL with a 2.24 ERA – his first league title in the category – and an .810 winning percentage (17–4). He was also the runner-up for the National League Cy Young award, sandwiched in the voting between teammate Adam Wainwright and winner Tim Lincecum.33 Further, Carpenter won the 2009 Tony Conigliaro Award unanimously.34 From 2004 through 2009, he was 68–24 through his first six seasons with the club. His .739 winning percentage was the highest in team history through 2009.

2010–11

Carpenter being relieved in the top of the 7th, Game 7 of the 2011 World Series.

In 2010, Carpenter was involved in a bench-clearing brawl with the Cincinnati Reds. After a heated exchange with Reds' manager Dusty Baker following an incident between Cardinals' catcher Yadier Molina and the Reds' Brandon Phillips which cleared the benches, the two teams began shoving and grappling with each other. While pinned against a backstop, Reds' starting pitcher Johnny Cueto kicked wildly at several Cardinals, hitting Carpenter and LaRue several times. Cueto was suspended seven games for the incident. In the midst of the brawl, Carpenter could be seen exchanging words with several players, then the whole crowd of players including the Cardinals massed together in his direction. He was pushed up against the railing bordering the stands and almost fell in the middle of the chaos.3536

At the close of the 2011 regular season, the Cardinals called on Carpenter to consummate what St. Louis Post-Dispatch sportswriter Bernie Miklasz termed an "improbable comeback."37 The Cardinals were one game from completely surmounting a 10 12 games-won deficit over the Atlanta Braves that had commenced on August 28. They tied the Braves for the Wild Card spot entering the final game of the season on September 29. Carpenter started that game against the Houston Astros, securing an 8–0 victory behind his two-hit shutout.38 Meanwhile, the Philadelphia Philles defeated the Braves 4–3 in 13 innings, giving the Cardinals the wild card title and eliminating the Braves from the playoffs. The 10 12 games-won deficit marked the largest lead surrendered with 32 left to play.39 For the season, Carpenter pitched an NL-leading 237 13 innings while posting a 3.45 ERA and leading the major leagues in starts with 34. He also struck out 191 batters and allowed a 1.256 WHIP.

On Friday, October 7, Carpenter pitched for the second time in the NLDS against the Phillies. It was a sensational complete-game, three-hit shutout that carried the Cardinals to the series victory. He defeated former teammate and long-time friend Roy Halladay in a 1–0 pitcher's duel.40 To this point, Carpenter posted a 6–2 record and 2.94 ERA in the postseason with the Cardinals. The team won nine of his first 11 postseason starts, and in his total career with the Cardinals, including the post-season, he was 101–44 (.697).41

In Game 1 of the 2011 World Series, Carpenter won as the Cardinals prevailed over the Texas Rangers, 3–2.42 He also pitched Game 4 with a no-decision. In Game 7, Carpenter pitched six innings on three days rest, leading the Cardinals to a 6–2 win over the Texas Rangers and picking up his second win in that World Series and third total.43 Of trivial note, Carpenter has been the starting pitcher for the Cardinals' first home games of their more recent World Series appearances since the current Busch Stadium opened, as he also started Games 1 and 5 in this World Series.

2012

Carpenter flexing his surgically repaired arm and shoulder while on 2nd base. NLDS Game 3. October 10, 2012.

Carpenter did not pitch for much of the 2012 season because of thoracic outlet syndrome (TOS), diagnosed on June 28 after a visit to a Dallas-area specialist.44 On July 3, the team and Carpenter announced he would have surgery to repair the TOS. Initial recovery time was estimated at six months, meaning he would miss the remainder of the 2012 season and be ready for spring training the following February.45 Dr. Greg Pearl performed the surgery on July 19 and the procedure involved removal of a rib.46 Defying expectations, Carpenter returned to the mound in a September 21 game against the Chicago Cubs. According to Carpenter, "I worked my butt off to try and get back, and it worked out."47

His post-season win on October 10 in the third game of the 2012 NLDS against the Washington Nationals gave him a 10–2 record, 2.88 ERA and 100 innings in 16 postseason starts. The 10 wins placed him seventh, just one behind Curt Schilling (11–2, 2.23 ERA) and Greg Maddux (11–14, 3.27 ERA).48 However, Carpenter allowed five runs – two earned – in only four innings to take the loss in Game 2 of the NLCS against the San Francisco Giants, and turned in an identical performance in the potentially clinching Game 6. The Cardinals lost in seven games.

2013

On February 5, 2013 an MLB.com report on the Cardinals official team website stated that Carpenter was considered unlikely to pitch for the team in the 2013 season, his final under his contract.49 According to Cardinals General Manager John Mozeliak, Carpenter told team officials he was again experiencing symptoms in his right shoulder that sidelined him for much of 2012, namely numbness, weakness, and general discomfort.49 In mid-January Carpenter told reporters at the Cardinals Winter Warmup event that he'd experienced no problems with the shoulder in his off-season throwing routine. However, according to Mozeliak, several attempts by Carpenter to throw bullpen sessions had caused a resurfacing of the shoulder issue.49 Carpenter said on February 11, he would not travel to Spring Training in Jupiter, Florida, deciding to stay in St. Louis fearing he could be a distraction.50 At a press conference that same day, he said he still held out hope of pitching in 2013, and refused to talk about retirement.51 On February 22, the team placed him on the 60-day disabled list.52

He hoped to return to pitch out of the bullpen after saying (May 4) he was feeling good and resuming a throwing program. John Mozeliak believed he could return in late June or early July.53 He threw a bullpen session of around 70 pitches on May 10, with all his pitch types, and said afterwards he felt good and was ready for his fifth session on May 13.54 He made two minor league rehab starts but was shut down because of continued discomfort.55 He did not pitch for the Cardinals in 2013. On October 13, his agent Bob LaMonte said Carpenter will retire, and may pursue a career in the Cardinals organization.256 General manager John Mozeliak confirmed his retirement during a press conference on November 20, 2013.57

Pitching style

Like teammate Adam Wainwright, Carpenter's repertoire consisted mostly of sinkers (90–94 mph), cutters (87–90), and curveballs (74–77), with occasional four-seam fastballs and a changeup used against left-handed hitters. His curveball was his preferred pitch with two strikes.58 He was also a good fielder, having pitched three full seasons (2001, 2006 and 2009) without making an error.59

Legacy, honors and accomplishments

As a pitcher who missed considerable playing time due to injury, Carpenter won three major Comeback Player of the Year awards in two separate seasons. Steve Adams of MLB Trade Rumors wrote that "injuries to Carpenter shortened what could have been one of the most impressive careers of a generation, but few were better than Carpenter when he was healthy. From 2004–11, [he] posted a 3.06 ERA with 7.3 K/9 and 2.0 BB/9 in 1331 23 innings." Said Mozeliak, “When you think back to everything this organization has been through in regard to his ups and downs, he will still go down as one of the greatest we’ve ever had. … We think back to his career and what an amazing one it was. He was part of so many highlights and I think he really created a culture of higher expectations.” Chairman William DeWitt, Jr., remarked “Chris will always be remembered as the leader of the pitching staff during one of the great eras of Cardinals baseball.”60 Carpenter won one Cy Young award and finished in the top three twice more.61 Despite reaching 28 or more starts in just six of his nine seasons with the St. Louis Cardinals, he won two World Series rings and 95 games with a 3.07 ERA over 1348 13 innings.59 He is the franchise's all-time leader in strikeout-to-walk ratio (3.666) and is tied for eighth in league-average adjusted ERA+ (133), fourth in strikeouts (1,085), fifth in walks and hits per inning pitched (WHIP, 1.125), fifth in strikeouts per nine innings pitched (7.240), ninth in bases on balls per 9 innings pitched (1.975) and eighth in winning percentage (.683)62 His .683 winning percentage also was second all-time for Cardinals starting pitchers with at least 100 starts and led the Major Leagues over the period of his Cardinals career.63

Awards and honors
Title # of times Dates Refs
National League All-Star Game selection 3 2005, 2006, 2010
MLBPA Players Choice National League Comeback Player of the Year Award 2 2004, 2009 64
The Sporting News National League Comeback Player of the Year Award 2 2004, 2009
National League Cy Young Award 1 2005
National League Player of the Week Award 4 2005, 2006 (3x)
MLBPA Players Choice National League Outstanding Pitcher Award 2 2005, 2006
The Sporting News National League Pitcher of the Year Award 2 2005, 2006
Starting Pitcher of the Year Award 1 2005
World Series champion 2 2006, 2011
BBWAA St. Louis Chapter Darryl Kile Good Guy Award 1 2006
National League Pitcher of the Month Award 1 August 2009
National League Comeback Player of the Year Award 1 2009
National League Bullet Rogan Award 1 2009 65
Tony Conigliaro Award 1 2009
Top ten National League finishes
Statistical category # of times Season (Rank, description)
Earned run average 3 2005 (5th, 2.83), 2006 (2nd, 3.09), 2009 (1st, 2.24)
Adjusted earned run average 3 2005 (4th, 150), 2006 (3rd, 144), 2009 (1st, 182)
Wins 5 2004 (9th, 15), 2005 (2nd, 21), 2006 (7th, 15), 2009 (2nd, 17), 2010 (6th, 16)
Winning percentage 5 2004 (2nd, .750), 2005 (2nd, .808), 2006 (7th, .652), 2009 (1st, .810), 2010 (8th, .640)
Walks plus hits per inning pitched (WHIP) 4 2004 (4th, 1.137), 2005 (5th, 1.055), 2006 (1st, 1.069), 2009 (2nd, 1.007)
Hits per nine innings pitched 3 2005 (5th, 7.597), 2006 (4th, 7.877), 2009 (4th, 7.287)
Bases on balls per 9 innings pitched 5 2004 (6th, 1.879), 2005 (7th, 1.899), 2006 (5th, 1.746), 2009 (3rd, 1.775), 2010 (10th, 2.413)

Bold: led National League
†: led both Major Leagues

Post-playing career

In January, 2014, the Cardinals announced Carpenter would take a role not in uniform with the front office, but had yet to specify what that role would be. Mozeliak imparted that in the meantime he would become familiar with the role of scouting.66

Personal life

As of 2005, Carpenter resides in St. Louis with his wife Alyson, son Sam, and daughter Ava.citation needed His agent is Bob LaMonte.

In the 2011–12 offseason, Carpenter and Halladay were fishing in the Amazon River with fellow pitcher B. J. Ryan and professional sport fisherman Skeet Reese when they encountered a wounded man who was stranded. The man was attempting to catch fish to sell as aquarium pets when an anaconda attacked him. The snake bit him, but the victim was able to free himself. The snake attempted to wrap itself around the man, but instead wrapped itself around the motor of his 14-foot canoe, flipped it over and broke the motor off. When the pitchers discovered him, they flipped the boat back over, recovered his belongings and towed him home.6768

Less than three weeks after Carpenter announced his retirement, Halladay signed a one-day contract with the Toronto Blue Jays on December 9, 2013, and announced his own retirement.69 Carpenter's friendship with Halladay received increased media attention during the 2011 NLCS. Drafted two years apart, Halladay made his Major League debut for the Blue Jays one after Carpenter in 1998. They met the year before while assigned with the Syracuse Chiefs and developed a competitive bond. Although they both pitched together in the Toronto rotation for four years, Carpenter had yet to achieve the success for which he is now recognized until after the Blue Jays released him following the 2002 season. That season, Halladay achieved a breakthrough with his first All-Star selection and winning 19 games with a 2.93 ERA.7071

See also

References

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External links

Preceded by
Roger Clemens
National League All-Star Game Starting Pitcher
2005
Succeeded by
Brad Penny







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