April 27, 1975 |
Exeter, New Hampshire
|Batted: Right||Threw: Right|
|May 12, 1997 for the Toronto Blue Jays|
|Last MLB appearance|
|October 2, 2012 for the St. Louis Cardinals|
|Earned run average||3.76|
|Career highlights and awards|
Christopher John Carpenter (born April 27, 1975) is an American former Major League baseball (MLB) starting pitcher. 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. Carpenter pitched his final nine seasons for the Cardinals, winning 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 2⁄3 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.
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 #3 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. 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 having a 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 pitched very well for the rest of the season, including winning 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 Wildcard. Carpenter recorded 12 wins, tying Pat Hentgen for second highest on the club, as he had a 12–7 record with a 4.37 ERA.
Carpenter had an injury-plagued 1999 season, as he made only 24 starts, finishing with a 9–8 record with a 4.38 ERA. He struggled during the 2000 season, and at the beginning of August, in which Carpenter had a 7–10 record with a 6.99 ERA, he was pulled out of the starting rotation and placed into the bullpen. Carpenter returned to the rotation after a few weeks, and pitched better in September to finish the season with a 10–12 record, and posting a 6.26 ERA.
He pitched much better during the first half of the 2001 season, as at the end of June, Carpenter had a 7–4 record with a 3.67 ERA. He would then lose his next seven decisions over his next ten starts to fall to 7–11 and a 4.59 ERA. Carpenter rebounded from his 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. Carpenter, along with Roy Halladay, were considered the starters of the future for the Blue Jays.
Carpenter was named the Blue Jays opening day starter in 2002 on April 1 at Fenway Park against the Boston Red Sox. Carpenter was rocked in his start, pitching 2 1⁄3 innings, allowing six runs, and received a no-decision in Toronto's 12–11 win. He was then placed on the disabled list (DL) due to a shoulder injury, and would not make another start until April 21. Carpenter lasted only three innings in his second start, allowing three runs against the New York Yankees, taking the loss as New York won the game 9–2. Carpenter once again was placed on the disabled list, where he remained until late June. He was again back on the DL in the middle of August, and remained there for the rest of the season as he had shoulder surgery in September to repair a torn glenoid labrum where surgeons inserted three tacks to anchor the labrum. 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 deal, which Carpenter refused, allowing him to become a free agent.
St. Louis Cardinals
The Cardinals signed Carpenter prior to the 2003 season, hoping he would be ready by mid-season. However, the pins anchoring the labrum destabilized, forming scar tissue that resulted in another surgery and DL stay for the entire 2003 season. Fully recovered 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 (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. He helped bolster a staff that finished second in the NL in ERA (3.75) in a season in which the Cardinals won a league-high 105 games and the NL pennant for the first time since 1987. 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 posted his best year to date. On June 14, he threw a one-hit shutout against the team that drafted, the Toronto Blue Jays. The next month, he became the first Cardinal pitcher in 32 years to start the All-Star Game at Comerica Park in Detroit. He set career bests in ERA (2.83), strikeouts (213), innings pitched (241 2⁄3), complete games (7) and shutouts (4) while amassing a 21–5 record for the Division Champion Cardinals. While not a leader in any one statistical category in 2005, he was selected over Dontrelle Willis as the National League Cy Young Award winner, becoming only the second pitcher in team history after Bob Gibson to win the award. He also was selected as the starter for the National League in the 2005 All Star Game by Tony La Russa.
This time, Carpenter was healthy for the post-season. Although the Cardinals lost to the Houston Astros in the National League Championship Series, he pitched well throughout the postseason, going 2–0 with a 2.14 ERA in 21 innings against the San Diego Padres and Houston.
Carpenter continued pitching well throughout the 2006 season, achieving personal feats such as striking out a career-high 13 batters on June 13, 2006 against the Pittsburgh Pirates and winning his 100th career game on September 16, 2006 beating the San Francisco Giants 6–1. Carpenter became the third member of the St. Louis Cardinals pitching staff to get his 100th career win in 2006, after Jeff Suppan and Mark Mulder. Carpenter was also voted on the 2006 All-Star game, and finished third in the Cy Young Award voting behind Brandon Webb and Trevor Hoffman.
Carpenter won his first career World Series start in Game 3 against the Detroit Tigers on October 24, 2006 at Busch Stadium in St. Louis by pitching 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 1⁄3 innings.
On December 4, 2006, the Cardinals announced they had re-signed Carpenter to a five-year, US$65 million deal, keeping Carpenter with the team through 2011, with a $12 million option for 2012.
In 2007, Carpenter pitched only one game. After an opening day (April 1) loss to the New York Mets, Carpenter was sidelined with elbow problems and the team announced on May 5, 2007, 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, 2007, the Cardinals announced that he needed Tommy John Surgery and would be sidelined for at least 12 months.
On July 30, 2008, Carpenter made 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). 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. It was his 101st career win, against only 70 losses (.591 win pct.).
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; the MRI revealed an oblique tear on his left side.
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. 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.
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.
A 7–0 victory over San Diego at Petco Park on August 22, giving him an NL-tying 14th win, was the unofficial 10,000th win in Cardinals' franchise history. The official total (9,219 at the time) is lower because the Cardinals do not count its ten years in the American Association in its all-time statistics.
On October 1, 2009, Carpenter hit his first career home run, a grand slam, in the Cards' 13–0 rout of the Cincinnati Reds at 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 6 RBI in a game, and broke the Cardinals' club record held by Bob Gibson, who had five RBI on July 26, 1973.
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.
He won the 2009 Tony Conigliaro Award unanimously, given annually to a Major League Baseball player who best overcomes an obstacle and adversity through the attributes of spirit, determination and courage that were trademarks of Tony Conigliaro.
Since first pitching for the Cardinals in 2004, he was 68–24 through his first six seasons with the club, his .739 winning percentage the highest in team history through 2009.
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.
Through September 28, 2011, Carpenter holds the Cardinals' franchise record for the highest winning percentage by a starting pitcher (95–42, .693). With the Cardinals having nearly surmounted a 10.5 games-won deficit to the Atlanta Braves dating back to August 28, the Cardinals were tied with Braves for the Wild Card spot entering the final game of the season. With Carpenter on the mound, the Cardinals defeated the Houston Astros behind his two-hit shutout. The Braves lost to the Philadelphia Philles, giving the Cardinals the Wild Card title.
On Friday, October 7, 2011 Carpenter pitched a complete-game, three-hit shutout to carry the Cardinals to victory in the National League Division Series against the Philadelphia Phillies. He defeated former teammate and long-time friend Roy Halladay in a sensational 1–0 pitcher's duel.
Carpenter is now 6–2, 2.94 ERA in the post-season with the Cardinals. The team has won nine of his 11 post-season starts, and in his total career with the Cardinals, including the post-season, he is 101–44 (.697).
In Game 1 of the 2011 World Series, Carpenter won as the Cardinals prevailed over the Texas Rangers, 3–2. In Game 7, Carpenter pitched six innings on three days rest, leading the Cardinals to a 6–2 win over the Texas Rangers. Carpenter was 2–0 in his second World Series win. 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.
Carpenter did not pitch for much of the 2012 season because of thoracic outlet syndrome, diagnosed on June 28, after a visit to a Dallas-area specialist. On July 3, the team and Carpenter announced he would have surgery to repair his thoracic outlet syndrome. Recovery time was estimated at six months, meaning he would probably miss the remainder of the 2012 season but be ready for spring training in February 2013. The surgery was performed July 19 by Dr. Greg Pearl in Dallas and involved removal of a rib. Despite the original recovery timeline projected by his doctors, Carpenter was able to return to the mound September 21 in a game against the Chicago Cubs. According to Carpenter, "I worked my butt off to try and get back, and it worked out."
His post-season win on October 10 in the third game of the 2012 NLDS against the Washington Nationals gave him a 10–2 (2.88 ERA) record and 100 innings in 16 postseason starts. The placed him seventh place for wins, only one behind Curt Schilling (11–2, 2.23 ERA) and Greg Maddux (11–14, 3.27 ERA). However, Carpenter allowed 5 runs (2 of them earned) in only 4 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 7 games.
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. 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. 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. 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. At a press conference that same day, he said he still held out hope of pitching in 2013, and refused to talk about retirement. On February 22, the team placed him on the 60-day disabled list.
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.  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.  He made two minor league rehab starts but was shut down because of continued discomfort. 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. General manager John Mozeliak confirmed his retirement during a press conference on November 20, 2013.
Like teammate Adam Wainwright, Carpenter's repertoire consists 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 is his preferred pitch with 2 strikes. He is also a good fielder, having pitched three full seasons (2001, 2006 and 2009) without making an error.
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 2⁄3 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.” Carpenter won one Cy Young award and finished in the top three twice more. 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 1⁄3 innings. He is the franchise's all-time leader in strikeout-to-walk ratio (3.666) and is tied for eight 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) 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.
Honors and accomplishments
- 2004 NL Comeback Player of the Year – The Sporting News and "Players Choice Awards" (MLBPA)
- 2005–2006, 2010 All-Star selection
- 2005 Cy Young Award (NL)
- 2005–2006 Sporting News NL Pitcher of the Year
- 2009 Pitcher of the Month (Aug.)
- 2009 NL Comeback Player of the Year – MLB and "Players Choice Awards" (MLBPA)
- 2009 NL Bullet Rogan Award
- 2009 Tony Conigliaro Award
In the 2011–12 offseason, Carpenter and Halladay were fishing with fellow pitcher B. J. Ryan and professional sport fisherman Skeet Reese in the Amazon River when they encountered a wounded man who was also 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. When the snake attempted to wrap itself around the man, instead it 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.
Less than three weeks Carpenter after announced his retirement, Halladay signed a one-day contract with the Toronto Blue Jays on December 9, 2013, and announced his own retirement. 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.
- List of Major League Baseball ERA champions
- List of Major League Baseball shutout champions
- List of St. Louis Cardinals team records
- Sporting News Pitcher of the Year Award
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Chris Carpenter.|
- Career statistics and player information from MLB, or ESPN, or Baseball-Reference, or Fangraphs, or The Baseball Cube, or Baseball-Reference (Minors)
- Chris Carpenter page at stlcardinals.scout.com
|National League All-Star Game Starting Pitcher