Barring a collapse of historical proportions, the St. Louis Cardinals will face the Atlanta Braves in the National League Wild Card game. Starting for the Braves will be their unquestioned ace, Kris Medlen, but the decision about who should start for the Cardinals isn’t as clear-cut. Adam Wainwright, the staff’s ace for most of the season, is certainly a candidate, but with a 4.88 ERA in 24 September innings, his confidence has surely taken a hit. Surprisingly enough, Wainwright is the owner of a 3.22 xFIP, ranking him third in the National League among qualified pitchers behind only Stephen Strasburg and Cliff Lee. The numbers say that he is a fantastic pitcher and one of the best in the league.
But when all you need is one win, you can throw all the statistics out the window. When the season is on the line, a pitcher can either rise to the occasion, or he can shrink away from the spotlight. It doesn’t matter if he has the best xFIP in the entire world. When confidence is lacking, poor performance always follows. Baseball players are, after all, only human. The Cardinals need to trust a pitcher who has risen to the occasion time and time again: Chris Carpenter.
Although he has only logged a handful of innings this season, he worked his tail off so he could throw even one. Chris Carpenter is a big game pitcher. He knows what’s at stake in the Wild Card round. It’s win or go home, and you can bet that going home is not an option.
Now, it’s possible he could lose, just because luck plays such a huge factor in baseball. But if he is handed the ball, Carpenter will be ready. That I can guarantee.
About the Author
Written by David Gorsky
I'm a lifelong sports fan with a particular interest in baseball. I'm a proponent of using SABRmetrics to find a player's true value. I recently graduated from the University of Virginia and I'm ready to start my career in sports media. I can be reached at davidgorsky(at)outlook.com.