Ok you probably didn’t need me to tell you that. And it probably could have been said weeks ago, but coming off his 10 strikeout, no walk, 13 GBs on 19 balls in play performance I thought it would be a good time to mention it.
Chris Carpenter effectively lost the last two years to injury, so coming into this year it was a question if he could stay healthy, and, if so, how effective he would be. Well yes he has stayed healthy and he has been very effective, with a K:BB ratio north of 5 and over 52% grounders per balls in play.
He throws a two-seam fastball, a slider and curve. All three are solidly above average, each worth about 2 runs per 100 pitches.
+----------+-------+-------+ | | vRHB | vLHB | +----------+-------+-------+ | Fastball | 0.44 | 0.48 | | Slider | 0.35 | 0.23 | | Curve | 0.21 | 0.29 | +----------+-------+-------+
Roughly speaking he throws the fastball half the time and the slider and curve each a quarter of the time. This is a relatively small fraction of fastballs, a testament to the strength of his breaking pitches. He throws his slider a little bit more to RHBs and his curve a little more to LHBs, as is to be expected. But the difference is small compared to most pitchers who rarely throw a slider to opposite handed batters.
His fastball has standard two-seam movement, lots of tail into RHBs and not as much ‘rise’ as a four-seam fastball. Because of this movement, and the fact that it is often low in the zone, 61% of balls in play off of it are grounders. He gets it in the pitchf/x strikezone over 60% of the time. It is the prototypical strike/grounder pitch.
His curve has huge vertical movement; its spin causing it to drop ten inches more than it would just due to gravity. It gets 32% misses per swing, not up there with the top curves, but solidly above average. It also induces a fair number of grounders (55% per ball in play).
The location of his slider to LHBs and RHBs is interesting.
First off, these pitch locations are very ‘tight’ compared to other pitchers, displaying Carpenter’s good command of the pitch. Against lefties he uses it to pound the inner half the zone, almost like Rivera does with his cutter. Nothing is outside, and a fair number are right along the inside edge, rather than out over the middle of the plate. I think it is this ability to locate the pitch so well that allows him to throw it more often than most righties throw their slider to LHBs.
Against righties, he throws more of them out of the zone down-and-away. These induce a very high percentage of out-of-zone swings, resulting in whiffs and weak contact.
St Louis’s rotation has really fallen into place. Carpenter has come back strong from injury, Adam Wainwright is pitching excellently as expected, Joel Pineiro has reinvented himself as a control/groundball specalist and Kyle Lohse provides a serviceable fourth starter in a potential playoff rotation.
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