Questioning Carpenter?

 

Don't question this man.

Don't question this man.

-A couple of things-1. I am no longer going by the secret_sauce tag, im now using my twitter name-ryan_jones29     2. I wrote this piece the day after Carp’s last start but had trouble putting it into the system

There’s been a lot made of Chris Carpenter’s 2010 season thus far. His five home runs allowed in his first two starts (would have been 6 if not for Colby Rasmus) made Cardinal fans question Carpenter’s health. Recently, a comment from Houston Astro Lance Berkman, who said Carpenter’s velocity is down several mph, has only brought more attention to this “issue.” Ken Rosenthal even suggested in an ITD Morning After interview on May 18 that Carpenter might be in the beginning of a slight decline. So should Cardinal fans be concerned about their oft-injured ace?

In a word, no.

 

First off all, Carpenter’s velocity is down a little, but the amount it is down is exaggerated. Yes Carpenter averaged 93 mph on all fastballs in 2009, which means 2010’s 91.4 mph average velocity is down, but when you look at the past several years, it doesn’t exactly scream Red Flag! To show what I mean, here is Carpenter’s average velocity for the following years-I took out his injury riddled 07’ and 08’ numbers

04’-90.6 mph

05’-91.3 mph

06’-91.4 mph

09’-93.0 mph

10’-91.4 mph

So Carpenter’s 2010 velocity is down, but it is still exactly in line with his career averages. It is hard telling why Carpenter threw so hard in 09’, maybe it was all the rehab he did the previous two years, maybe he had extra adrenaline being in a pennant race after two straight years off, we’ll never know. The important thing is that Carpenter’s velocity isn’t down at a career low, and who knows, maybe as the weather gets warmer and the year progresses his velocity may increase a bit. So going forward, Cards fans can breath easy about Carp’s “diminished velocity.”

Going forward with Carpenter, it is fair to expect more ace-like performances from the right-hander. He’s off to a good start in 2010, with a 5-1 record, 2.80 ERA, 3.70 FIP and an expected FIP of 3.33, compared to last years 3.38 mark. Remember FIP takes a teams defense out of the equation and comes up with an ERA like number based on the amount of things that a pitcher  controls-Walks, Strikeouts, Homeruns.  The reason Carpenter’s FIP is higher now is because of all the homers he gave up early this season, but his expected FIP is a better measure of what to expect going forward.  The difference between this year and last is his home run rate. Last year Carpenter gave up homeruns on only 4.6% of his fly balls, which is very low. This year that number is at 14%. For his career, it is at 10.9%. Over time I would expect to see that number closer to his career average, but for his overall numbers to stay around the same still. His batting average on balls in play is still a little low, so going forward Carpenter might allow a few more runs on hits and a few less on homers. Overall Carpenter is still an ace pitcher, and appears to be in great shape going forward. Rest easy, Card fans.

-All statistics from fangraphs.com and despite Bernie’s column in the post dispatch, I didn’t get the idea to write this from that. Honestly I began this piece at 8 am, and didn’t see Bernie’s until I checked the site at 1.