St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Chris Carpenter has missed this entire season with a nerve problem in his shoulder and a back issue that came up while rehabbing, so Sunday’s news that he plans to retire is not a big surprise. He also only made three starts in 2012 due to multiple ailments, and at age 38 Carpenter will call it a career and perhaps move into a role in the Cardinals’ front office.
Carpenter will finish with a 144-94 regular season record over 15 seasons, along with a 3.76 ERA, 33 complete games and 15 shutouts over 332 starts (350 total appearances). He was a three-time All-Star (2005, 2006, 2010), and won the National League Cy Young Award in 2005 with a 21-5 record and a 2.83 ERA over 33 starts (241.2 innings) along with a major league-leading (tied with Dontrelle Willis) seven complete games.
Carpenter went 10-4 with a 3.00 ERA in 18 career postseason starts, and was a prominent part of the Cardinals’ World Series winning teams in 2006 and 2011 with seven combined wins during those two playoff runs. If St. Louis wins the World Series this year, he would get a third ring despite being unable to pitch all season.
Carpenter started his career with the Toronto Blue Jays in 1997, but he was released by the team after another injury-plagued season in 2002 and signed with the Cardinals with the hope he would pitch at some point in 2003. He wound up missing his entire first season in St. Louis with a torn labrum in his shoulder, but would hit his stride with 51 wins from 2004-2006 while making at least 28 starts in all three seasons.
Carpenter made just four starts (five total appearances) in 2007 and 2008 combined after eventually undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2007, but returned to lead the senior circuit in ERA in 2009 (2.24) along with a 17-4 record on his way to winning National League Comeback Player of the Year. After two more solid, healthy seasons in 2010 (16-9, 3.22 ERA over 35 starts-235 innings) and 2011 (11-9, 3.45 ERA over 34 starts-237.1 innings), the last two years have been essentially lost for Carpenter despite his efforts to take the mound.
Carpenter missed large chunks of seasons in the midst of what would have been his prime, and he is virtually certain to have reached 200 career wins with better health dating back to his time with the Blue Jays. But when it’s all said and done, apart from his postseason success, Carpenter’s career will be one where we all wonder what might have been without the elbow and shoulder issues that plagued him.
Brad Berreman is a contributing writer at Rant Sports.com. Follow him on Twitter @bradberreman24.