It’s June 23, 2012. Chris Carpenter might be back from his injury soon. If you’re wondering why Chris Carpenter had another injury, here’s a cartoon I made in Paint almost a year ago today:
Carpenter pitched 273.1 innings last year, including the playoffs but not Spring Training. Carpenter has a history of pitching-arm injuries. At the time of that cartoon (June 29, 2011) Carpenter had worked consecutive outings with pitch counts of 118, 92, 124, 124, 132. Sometimes 1 and 1 and 1 and 1 and 1 and 1 = 6.
I need to counterbalance this with one showing Jim Tracy and a room full of replacement-level bums who can all work 75 pitches every 4 days with a 4.50 ERA. And then in the corner a little laptop with Drew Pomeranz Skyping into the meeting and saying “Hey, guys, remember me? You traded Ubaldo Jimenez for me? I’m, like, your best starting pitcher right now? Could someone please tell me the ‘mechanical issue’ I’m supposed to be working on in AAA?”
It’s a bad idea to run a pitcher into the ground to the point that he’s pitching tired. That’s how injuries happen. But then, given the shambles the Cardinals bullpen was in last June (entirely the fault of Tony LaRussa’s horrible roster management), it’s hard not to ride Carpenter, and ride him St. Louis did, to a championship.
On the other hand, it’s a bad idea to hide behind an arbitrary pitch count limit and run out a bunch of replacement level or worse pitchers because you have three really good bullpen pitchers. Sure, your bum starters don’t get hurt. But you also don’t find out who’s an ace because no one gets to work deep into games. Championship teams need big-time starters, and must take the injury risk. Bad teams need a collection of bums and a gimmick.