The St. Louis Cardinals survived the weekend in Los Angeles with their lead in the National League Wild Card race intact. Now, if all goes well in the next couple of days, it looks like they’ll get some much-needed help in the form of right hander Chris Carpenter.
Carpenter threw a five inning, 93-pitch simulated game on Saturday afternoon at Dodger Stadium, just three months after undergoing surgery to relieve thoracic outlet syndrome, a condition that weakens the shoulder. Carpenter displayed good velocity and better command that he showed in a simulated game last week.
The key date now is Friday, that’s the day the former Cy Young winner will make his season debut versus the Chicago Cubs. Saturday was the fourth time Carpenter had thrown to hitters while attempting to make it back before the end of the season. As Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Dispatch notes, without the rehab, Carpenter would be considerably further behind in his throwing program, but the hard work has paid off.
“I’ve really pushed through this to get to where I need to be to see if I can get back,” (Carpenter) said. “Am I at my peak? No. Do I feel good? Yes. I feel like my command is good. I feel I’m stronger. Mechanically, I’m more in time.”
The Cardinals open a three game series with the Astros on Tuesday. Houston is the worst team in baseball, but have enjoyed playing spoiler this past weekend; taking three of four for the Philadelphia Phillies. St. Louis holds a one-game lead on the Dodgers for the second NL Wild Card spot and a two-and-a-half game lead over Milwaukee.
Carpenter was 11-9 with a 3.45 ERA in 2011. If he pitches every fifth game for the Cardinals the rest of the way, he would in line to make a total of three starts this season. The Wild Card Game is scheduled for October 5, if the rotation holds form, Carpenter would be on three days rest for that game.