Originally posted on Fantasy Baseball 365  |  Last updated 1/1/12

Key Stats: Chris Carpenter may have seen his rank drop from 64 to 175 last season, but there’s plenty of reason to believe there’s still something left in the tank. Carpenter was in the bottom fourth of the league in terms of the run support that he received, so even with the loss of Albert Pujols it’s possible that Carpenter will receive better luck in terms of run support.  He also had a very difficult start to the year. His first five quality starts of the season did not go for wins and while his xFIP never got any higher than 3.48 in any single month, his ERA in May was well over 5.00. Carpenter did settle in as he had an ERA under 3.00 in the second half and had three quality starts against the Rangers in the World Series.

Skeptics Say:  Another year over and a new one just begun. Carpenter will be 37 next season. Sure there could be some adjustments to the numbers from a luck standpoint, but it’s not possible that his stuff gets better. His K/9 was over 7 for the first time since 2006 last year. The likelihood of Carpenter being able to continue being a top twenty-five strikeout pitcher is only slightly higher than the Eagles chances of getting into the NFL playoffs.
 

Peer Comparison: I rank him as the 30th starting pitcher, so not too far off where CBS and Tristan Cockcroft have him. The larger difference comes into play when you consider where he ranks overall at this site compared with RotoChamp and Tristan Cockcroft. The importance of ranking across position can be the subject of a whole different article, but I’m just going to say it doesn’t matter as much because who you draft with will usually dictate the value of a starting pitcher versus that of a hitter.

Looking at the differences between this site and ESPN, Johnny Cueto and Ervin Santana are the two names that are head-scratchers. Cockcroft ranks Cueto as a top 30 guy and Santana just ahead of Carpenter. Here’s a look back at their numbers from this past season:

Player

Wins

ERA

WHIP

Strikeouts

IP

Santana

11

3.38

1.22

178

228.2

Cueto

9

2.31

1.09

104

156

Carpenter

11

3.45

1.26

191

237.1

It’s easy to understand how Cockcroft could feel this way given that these players are younger (Santana will be 30 and Cueto 27) and had better seasons in the first place. I’m not a believer in either Santana or Cueto because they have not been able to put these kinds of numbers up consistently and as their xFIP would indicate, were probably pitching with lady luck on their sides.

Team Outlook: The Cardinals were the fifth highest scoring team in baseball last year, so if all things were equal Carpenter would have been in the top 17% of the league in terms of run support instead of in the bottom 25%. Another thing that didn’t help his win total was the fact that the Cardinals bullpen was below average and had one of the more recognizable carousels at closer. With Jason Motte pretty safe at the end for the Cardinals next year and the luck surely to come more in Carp’s favor, Pujols’ loss should not cause Carpenter’s ranking to come even further down next season.

What They’re Saying: CBS Sportsline: #29 Starting Pitcher; Tristan Cockcroft of ESPN.com: #38 Starting Pitcher & #146 Overall; RotoChamp: #72 Overall

Projection: Given the number of innings he threw last year and the fact that there’s no Tony LaRussa around, it will be interesting to see how the Cardinals handle Carpenter this season.
13 wins 3.38 ERA 1.24 WHIP 158 K in 212 innings

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