When Adam Wainwright went down for the season, the Cardinals knew they would need to rely even heavier on their other three stars. So far they only have Matt Holliday running on all cylinders. Albert Pujols is hitting in the .260’s with very little power and Chris Carpenter only has one win as we approach late May.
Conventional wisdom indicates Albert will turn things around and it is doubtful anyone willing to sell him at a discount, but Carpenter could be a candidate you can pick up in the bargain bin.
When healthy, Carpenter is a proven winner and Cy-Young contender. Drafting Carpenter has always been an injury risk, not a performance risk. This year, Carpenter has struggled. Through May 22nd, he sits at 1-4 with a 4.88 ERA and a surprising 1.48 WHIP. Traditionally among the league leaders in WHIP, the high number is the key to his recent struggles and also provides a clue to a rebound in the near future. His BB/9
is 2.4, slightly higher than usual, but the exact same as last year when he won 16 games.
The difference is his H/9 which stands at 10.9, his highest number since 2007, when he only pitched one game before undergoing Tommy John surgery. His career H/9 is at 9 so it seems the hitters are getting lucky on him and sure enough they have a BABIP of .343, compared to a lifetime .301. As the season progresses you should expect a correction.
With a strikeout rate in-line with career average’s, Carpenter’s only other concern is run support. Although the Cardinals have the highest team batting average and are second in runs scored, Carpenter’s run support stands in the middle of the pack among MLB pitchers.
Taking everything into account as the year goes on you should expect Carpenter’s ERA and WHIP to fall and his run support to climb. That should lead to more wins. The time to buy Chris Carpenter on the cheap is now.

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MLB Injury Notes

20 May 2009

The Cardinals and Red Sox will both get emotional lifts tonight as Chris Carpenter and Kevin Youkilis have come of the 15-day DL. 

Carpenter injured his rib cage while swinging back in April.  He’s scheduled to start tonight against the Cubs.  On the year he’s 1-0 with 9 Ks, a 0.00 ERA and 0.70 WHIP in 10 Innings.  He’s 7-3 lifetime against the Cubs with a 3.08 ERA.

Youkilis is expected to be in the lineup for the Red Sox against Toronto.  He’s hitting .393 with 6 HRs and 20 RBIs.  He has struggled against the Blue Jays hitting .239 with 5 HRs and 19 RBIs in 58 games.

Images courtesy of Icon SMI

MLB Injury Notes

18 May 2009

The Milwaukee Brewers were dealt a blow when Second Baseman Richie Weeks went down with a wrist injury.  He is lost for the season.  Weeks was hitting .272 with 28 Runs, 9 HRs, and 24 RBIs.  Casey McGehee, who is hitting .188 in 11 games will see more time at 2B.  Craig Counsell will also play the position, but at 38 years old, he’s not likely to play every day.  He is doing well though with a .324 average in 28 games.

Carlos Delgado will have his hip scoped.  The procedure could cost him a couple of months or more.  Fernando Tatis and Jeremy Reed will man First Base until Delgado can return.

The Cardinals got a three-pack of good news when they learned that Chris Carpenter and Rick Ankiel will be back on Wednesday and Ryan Ludwick should be able to return when he’s eligible to come off the DL.

Cincinnati’s Joey Votto will get checked out by doctors to try and find the cause of his recent dizzy spell.  Adam Rosales has been getting time at First Base for the Reds.

Kevin Youkilis started a rehab assignment with Triple-A Pawtucket.  He went hitless in his debut with the club, but he felt good. 

Vladimir Guerrero is set to begin a rehab assignmnet for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. If all goes well, he could be back in the Angels’ lineup early next week.

Pat Burrell landed on the DL with a neck injury.  Ben Zobrist will continue to fill in for Burrell.

Chris Carpenter
just can’t catch a break.  After throwing seven scoreless Innings in his season debut on April 9th against Pittsburgh, Carpenter was forced out after three Innings on Tuesday with a strained rib cage.  Carpenter surrendered four hits, but has still yet to allow an Earned Run this year.  Carpenter has dealt with elbow and shoulder injuries that have allowed him to make just six starts since the beginning of the 2007 season.  Mitchell Boggs was called up and will likely take the former Cy Young Award winner’s spot in the rotation.

Daisuke Matsuzaka
also landed on the DL due to a shoulder strain.  After sporting a 18-3, 2.90 ERA, Dice-K has struggled by allowing 9 Earned Runs in 6-1/3 Innings (12.79 ERA).  He allowed just 54 Earned Runs in 167-2/3 Innings last year.  He just can’t get anyone out as evidenced by his robust 3.00 WHIP.  Some may point to his participation in the World Baseball Classic as a reason for the shoulder strain.  Dice-K was named MVP of the WBC after winning three games.  Hunter Jones got the call to replace him on the roster.  Clay Buchholz will likely replace Matsuzaka in the rotation.

Images courtesy of Icon SMI

Image courtesy of Icon SMI

Chris Carpenter was brilliant in his 2009 debut allowing just 1 Hit and an Unearned Run in 7 Innings of work.  He struck out seven Pittsburgh batters.  Carpenter did walk two batters.  Carpenter threw 92 pitches, 63 for Strikes.  Carpenter’s WHIP is 0.43 and his BAA is 0.42.  This was just Carpenter’s fifth start since 2007 as he has dealt with elbow and shoulder injuries.  Hopefully this is a sign of things to come for the 2005 Cy Young winner.

19 March 2009

Written by Eric Stashin the Rotoprofessor

Every season there are players looking to make their comeback story.  Many times it is a player who has been injured and sitting on the sidelines for a year or two.  He has experienced success and lusts to get that glory back.  As we enter 2009, one player who fits the mold perfectly is the Cardinals Chris Carpenter.

The former Cy Young Award winner is looking to make an impressive return to the major leagues, having thrown a total of 21.1 innings in the major leagues over the past two seasons.  Tommy John surgery was the original cause, but things further deteriorated from there and culminated in “ulnar nerve transposition surgery” this off-season, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

The idea of him returning to being a useful starting pitcher seemed far-fetched even a few weeks ago.  In fact, rumors were running rampant that the Cardinals were considering shifting him to the closers role as a way to protect the young options the team currently has.

Now, less then three weeks away from opening day, Carpenter has had an incredible spring.  After tossing 6 shutout innings yesterday, he’s now gone 14 innings without yielding a run.  He’s given up 7 hits and 4 walks while striking out 4.

Before we all get too excited, remember that this is still Spring Training.  In fact, this is not even a normal spring, with many of the games stars off competing in the World Baseball Classic.  Instead, minor leaguers who under normal circumstances may have long ago been reassigned to the minors, are taking their hacks against pitchers attempting to prepare for the season.

Yes, Nick Markakis, Aubrey Huff and Adam Jones were all in the line-up yesterday, as well as other starters.  The point is, spring numbers can be awfully deceiving so certain things should be taken with a grain of salt.

Through all the positives the number that most jumps out at me is the strikeouts.  While Carpenter was never a major strikeout artist, posting a career K/9 of 6.86, the lack of Ks is a major concern.  While the Cardinals had a solid defense last season, with just 85 errors (tying them for fifth in the league), there are questions heading into the season.

They have a glaring hole at 2B, something that a notorious groundball pitcher has to fear.  Over the three seasons prior to his injury parade, he posted groundball rates of:

  • 2004 – 52.2%
  • 2005 – 54.5%
  • 2006 – 53.3%

Those are extremely impressive numbers, placing him in the Top 10 in each of those seasons.  The idea of Skip Schumaker, a career OFer in the major leagues, manning 2B is certainly a huge detriment.  While it’s possible he can do the job adequately, I’m really not sure at this point.  He did play shortstop back in high school and college, but that was a long time ago having been drafted in 2001.

Early on this season the Cardinals will also be without their starting 3B from a year ago in Troy Glaus.  I know, that is certainly no surprise, but it has to be mentioned.  He played 151 games last season committing just 7 errors.  It’s unlikely his temporary replacement can repeat that type of success.  In fact, it’s nearly impossible that Glaus himself could be that good again.  In the past he’s posted as many as 33 errors in a season.

I know that errors are not the best barometer of defense, as some players have better range then others.  Still, it is something.

While those question marks should not be considered the end all be all for Carpenter, it certainly should be a factor.  When you have a groundball pitcher it would be nice to know that he has a tremendous defensive infield behind him, but that’s not something that I can consider a guarantee.

He has had a tremendous spring thus far and it certainly would be a great story to see him come full circle.  Unfortunately, the concerns over the defense behind him is only part of my concern.  Having been away for so long, he will likely have a hard time readjusting to the major league game.

With so many injuries the past two seasons, it will be hard to imagine him staying healthy for the full season.  Any twinge…  Any tightness…  The team is going to have to take a closer look.  They are going to have to handle him with kid gloves to make sure that something more serious is not laying in wait.

This is not to say that I don’t think he’s worth a flyer late in your drafts.  He’s currently holding an ADP of 287.94 according to Mock Draft Central, meaning he’s going in Round 24 on average, though he has gone as high as 165 (Round 13).  Late in the draft, there’s no reason not to grab him.  The Cardinals always seem to be able to turn nothing into something on the mound, and in Carpenter they are starting with a whole lot more then nothing.

Don’t expect much, but I’d take the gamble.  I certainly wouldn’t reach for him very high, however, there are way too many questions.  What about you?  Is Carpenter a pitcher you have any interest in late in your drafts?

Here’s a look at some Pitchers who should bounce back this year.

Josh Beckett - Beckett struggled through injuries to a 12-10, 4.03 ERA season in 2008.  The encouraging news is despite not having his typical stuff, he still managed 172 Ks and a 1.19 WHIP.  A healthy Josh Beckett should approach is 2007 numbers.  20 Wins, low 3.00 ERA, and 190 Ks.

Jake Peavy - His numbers (2.85 ERA, 1.18) were outstanding, but he went just 10-11 because he lacked run support.  He was nearly traded to the Cubs, and a deal could still be in the works.  I fully expect him to win at least five or six more games and add about 40 Ks to last year’s 166.
Justin Verlander
- Like most Tigers Verlander had a 2008 to forget.  He went 11-17 with a 4.84 ERA, and a 1.40 WHIP,

John Lackey
- Why do all of these guys’ names start with a J?  Lackey managed just 24 starts last year, but went 12-5.  His ERA was a shade higher than normal at 3.75 (the three previous years it was 3.44, 3.56, and 3.01).  He struck out roughly the same ratio of batters 7.19 K/9 in 2007 & 7.17 in 2008. I see no reason no to expect 17+ Wins, a 3.50 ERA, and 180 Ks.

Scott Kazmir - Finally a non-J.  Kazmir started 27 games last year and went 12-8 with a 3.49 ERA, a 1.27 WHIP, and 166 Ks.  His ERA and WHIP were right in line with his career averages.  Where he should improve is in Wins and Ks.  I’d guess he’ll win a career high 16 games and strike out 200.
Miller Park
Carlos Zambrano
- Zambrano had a nice winning percentage (.700) as he went 14-6, but he struck out just 130 batters.  I don’t see a big change in his WHIP or ERA, but I expect him to win 17+ games and strike out 170 batters. 

Chris Carpenter
- Proceed with caution with Carpenter as he has lost two years to injury.  He was, however, one of the best pitchers in the game from 2004-2006.  If he looks good this Spring, why not take a chance on him?

Photos courtesy of Icon SMI

Tuesday, August 5th
Jason Kubel
went 4 for 5 with 3 Runs, a Double, 2 HRs, and 3 RBI.  Placido Polanco went 3 for 6 with 3 Runs, a Triple, 2 HRs, 4 RBI, and a Walk.  Raul Ibanez went 3 for 5 with 2 Runs, a HR, and 5 RBI.  Fernando Tatis smacked 2 HRs and had 4 RBI.  Darin Erstad went 4 for 4.  Jason Bay, Derrek Lee, Emil BrownRyan Raburn, Carlos Quentin, and Carlos Gonzalez also had 4 Hits.  Jeremy Hermida and Chris Davis each had 4 RBI.  Richie Sexson hit a Grand Slam.  Alfonso Soriano went 3 for 5 with 2 Runs, a Double, a HR, and 4 RBI.  Mark DeRosa (3 RBI), Ryan Sweeney, Ryan Braun, Jody Gerut (3 RBI), Marlon Byrd (3 Runs), Luke Scott, Edgar Renteria, Alexei Ramirez, Jeremy Reed, Jose Lopez, Kelly Johnson (3 Runs), and Adam Kennedy each had 3 Hits.  Corey Hart, Nick Swisher, and Dioner Navarro each had 3 RBI.  Ichiro Suzuki scored 3 Runs.

Brandon Webb tossed a Complete Game allowing 1 Run to improve to 16-4 with a 2.93 ERA.  He’s the first to 16 Wins.  Chris Waters threw 8 one-hit scoreless Innings for his first career Win.  He has allowed just 2 Hits in 14 scoreless Innings to start his career.  Josh Johnson tossed 6 scoreless Innings allowing 5 Hits to improve to 2-0 with a 3.34 ERA.  Dave Bush gave up1 Run on 3 Hits in 7 Innings with 7 Ks to improve to 6-9.  Mike Pelfrey gave up 2 Runs in 6-2/3 Innings to improve to 10-7 with a 3.85 ERA.  Josh Beckett gave up 2 Runs on 4 Hits in 6-2/3 Innings with 7 Ks to improve to 10-8.  Matt Harrison gave up 2 Runs in 6-1/3 Innings to improve to 3-2.  Mike Hampton gave up 2 Runs on 4 Hits for his first Win of the year.  Greg Smith (2 Runs on 4 Hits in 6 Innings), John “Hard Day’s Night” Lannan (7 Innings, 2 Runs, 5 Hits, 8 Ks), Jorge de la Rosa (7 Innings, 2 Runs, 6 Ks), and Chris Carpenter (5 scoreless Innings, 3 Hits) all got no-decisions.  Zach Duke gave up 2 Runs on 4 Hits in 7 Innings with 6 Ks, but lost.

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