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The Cardinals’ Ace in the Hole
Posted By David Gorsky On Sep 4 2012 @ 9:11 pm In St. Louis Cardinals | No Comments
In my last post, I talked about a possible solution  to the Cardinals’ fifth starter problem. As of now, that spot is being held down by Joe Kelly. The right-hander has pitched admirably this season, posting a 3.54 ERA over 89 innings. A deeper look at his numbers, however, reveals a worrisome trend. Kelly has posted 6.27 strikeouts per nine innings, which is well below the national league average of 7.64. His 4.15 xFIP is slightly above the league average of 3.99. These numbers suggest that some regression is in Average Joe’s future. While a lot of teams around the league would love to have an average pitcher as their fifth starter, the Cardinals have better options. One of these options is top prospect Shelby Miller. Another is the Cardinals long-time ace, Chris Carpenter.
The former Cy Young award winner underwent surgery  in July to repair a nerve issue in his shoulder. The team classified the procedure as “season-ending,” and Carpenter was optimistic about returning to the mound, be it this season or next.
”I’m past the ‘woe is me part, the here we go again,”’ Carpenter said. ”I’m excited about the outcome I might get. We can get this taken care of and hopefully I can get back out there and be better than I have been in the past.”
Nobody could have anticipated his recovery moving this quickly. Carpenter threw a three-inning simulated game today, and reportedly felt great afterwards. The return of a healthy Carpenter would provide a huge emotional boost to the team, not to mention what he brings with his arm. He is a legitimate ace, recording an ERA under 3.50 during each season in which he has donned the Cardinal red. His return would add yet another weapon to the Cardinals’ deep and talented roster. He has his sights set on returning to the rotation before the end of the regular season, which would be just in time to help the Cardinals secure a playoff spot and make another run at a World Series title.
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 possible solution: http://www.prosportsblogging.com/2012/08/31/the-case-for-shelby-miller/
 underwent surgery: http://sports.yahoo.com/news/chris-carpenter-undergo-season-ending-212221681--mlb.html
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