On the surface: Chris Carpenter’s career numbers appear modest: 144-94 record with a 3.76 earned run average in 17 seasons, many plagued by injuries. In five seasons, he made fewer than five starts and was out all of this past year with a persisting nerve condition.
But when he was healthy and when it was October, Carpenter, 38, was one of the St. Louis Cardinals’ all-time greats, ranking alongside the great Bob Gibson and yes, rookie Michael Wacha, as perhaps their best-ever at playoff time.
Just think about his epic 1-0 victory over Roy Halladay and the Philadelphia Phillies in clinching Game 5 of the 2011 NL Division Series. Carpenter helped lift St. Louis to World Series titles in 2006 and ’11 and holds the franchise record for playoff wins (10).
St. Louis general manager John Mozeliak once told reporters that Carpenter will “go down as one of the greatest we’ve ever had.”
Searing with intensity, Carpenter was loathed by foes and loved by the Cardinals, whom he posted a 95-44 record with a 3.07 ERA. He was 21-5 with a 2.83 ERA in winning the 2005 NL Cy Young Award.
Mozeliak said Carpenter will continue with the Cardinals in some capacity.
“He will always be remembered as one of the great players in Cardinal history, having been part of and a core piece of and without whom we wouldn’t have been to a lot of these positions of four pennants and two world championships during his tenure here as the leader of the pitching staff,” Cardinals team chairman Bill DeWitt Jr. told MLB.com.
“His leadership and leading by example I think created what we now see with the Adam Wainwrights of the world and hopefully what we see with these young guys like Michael Wacha, Shelby Miller coming,” Mozeliak added.
Wednesday’s announcement of Carpenter’s retirement had been imminent for months – but still a sad day indeed.