ST. LOUIS (KMOV) -- Well, it’s happening. Chris Carpenter is about to pull off the unthinkable. No, wait, scratch that. He’s going to pull a Houdini. The man is actually returning from what supposed to be season-ending surgery two months ago.
No one saw this coming back then. No one. And if they said they did, well, they’re lying.
A procedure that literally removed a rib from Carpenter’s body was supposed to get him ready for 2013. Yet here we are with barely over two weeks left in the regular season and the 37-year old will take the ball in what amounts to playoff-like baseball for the first time with only throwing simulated games.
Anyone else and I’d say they’re making the most egregious error you can make. But if there’s anyone in MLB who can handle this...it’s Christopher John Carpenter.
He will face challenges though. Can someone truly have their command exactly where they want it so soon after having surgery? And without the benefit of pitching in a real live game where results matter?
Can you expect Carpenter to have his velocity in the low-to-mid 90s on a consistent basis?
These are questions that most ordinary pitchers can answer with an unequivocal “no” to right off the bat. But the New Hampshire native isn’t an ordinary pitcher is he?
While I don’t believe you’ll see him as sharp as he normally is at his best - that’s just flat out unreasonable given the time he’s missed - he’ll give the Cards a good chance at winning when he’s on the mound. And that’s really all you can ask for at this stage of the season.
In order to do that, he’s going to have to outsmart hitters as opposed to overwhelm them with his stuff. If his velocity and command aren’t 100% where he wants it, he’s going to have to rely on his veteran guile that can only be achieved with 14 years of experience. Go in when they’re expecting it out. Up when they think it’ll be down. Offspeed when they’re looking fastball. And vice versa.
Don’t forget, it’s much more than the numbers when determining the value Chris Carpenter will be having on the field. It’s much more than that. His mere presence will lift up his fellow teammates and get them to play better. Just watch. They’ll be more at ease knowing their unquestioned leader has returned.
Nursing a small lead for the final wild card spot in the National League, Carpenter’s return could not have come at a better time. He’ll provide that last second spark to a club in desperate need of any type of spark. And that could prove to be the difference in making the playoffs...and not making it.
Once you’re in, well, I think 2011 proved anything can happen then.