Pitcher, St. Louis Cardinals
Christopher John Carpenter (born April 27, 1975 in Exeter, New Hampshire) is a starting pitcher in Major League Baseball who has played for the St. Louis Cardinals since 2003, and is currently signed with the team until the 2011 season, with a club option for 2012. Carpenter was 22 years old and a highly-regarded prospect when he broke into the majors in 1997 with the Toronto Blue Jays. He stayed with Toronto until after the 2002 season. He is 6' 6" and weighs 230 pounds.
Carpenter began his pro career with the Medicine Hat Jays of the short-season Pioneer League in 1994. In his debut against the Great Falls Dodgers, he tossed six scoreless innings of one-hit ball, fanning nine along the way. He ended up with a mark of 6–3 and turned in the league’s third-lowest ERA. He was also picked as the Pioneer League’s #3 prospect by league managers, behind Aaron Boone and Ray Brown.
Carpenter made his major league debut as a starter against the Minnesota Twins on May 12, 1997, pitching three innings in a 12–2 loss. He would lose his first five decisions before defeating the Chicago White Sox 6–5 on August 19, 1997. Carpenter pitched his first career complete game and shutout on September 9, 1997 as Toronto defeated the Anaheim Angels 2–0. Carpenter finished his rookie season with a 3–7 record and a 5.09 ERA.
After making two starts to begin the 1998 season, pitching a combined 10 innings and having a 9.00 ERA, the Blue Jays moved Carpenter into the bullpen, where he stayed until the end of May. Toronto moved Carpenter back into the starting rotation, and he pitched very well for the rest of the season, including winning six of his last seven decisions as the Blue Jays made a late push for a playoff spot, however, Toronto missed the playoffs, finishing four games behind the Boston Red Sox for the AL Wildcard. Carpenter recorded 12 wins, tying Pat Hentgen for second highest on the club, as he had a 12–7 record with a 4.37 ERA.
Carpenter had an injury plagued 1999 season, as he made only 24 starts, finishing with a 9–8 record with a 4.38 ERA. He struggled during the 2000 season, and at the beginning of August, in which Carpenter had a 7–10 record with a 6.99 ERA, he was pulled out of the starting rotation and placed into the bullpen. Carpenter returned to the rotation after a few weeks, and pitched better in September to finish the season with a 10–12 record, and posting a 6.26 ERA.
He pitched much better during the first half of the 2001 season, as at the end of June, Carpenter had a 7–4 record with a 3.67 ERA. He would then lose his next seven decisions over his next ten starts to fall to 7–11 and a 4.59 ERA. Carpenter rebounded from his slump to finish with a record of 11–11 and an ERA of 4.09. His 11 victories tied him with Esteban Loaiza and Paul Quantrill for the team high. Carpenter, along with Roy Halladay, were considered the starters of the future for the Blue Jays.
Carpenter was named the Blue Jays opening day starter in 2002 on April 1 at Fenway Park against the Boston Red Sox. Carpenter was rocked in his start, pitching 2.1 innings, allowing six runs, and received a no-decision in Toronto's 12–11 win. He was then placed on the disabled list due to a shoulder injury, and would not make another start until April 21. Carpenter lasted only three innings in his second start, allowing three runs against the New York Yankees, taking the loss as New York won the game 9–2. Carpenter once again was placed on the disabled list, where he remained until late June. He would once again go back on the disabled list in the middle of August, and remained there for the rest of the season as he had shoulder surgery in September. Carpenter finished the year 4–5 with a 5.28 ERA. At the end of the season, the Blue Jays removed Carpenter from the 40-man roster and offered him a minor league incentive deal, which Carpenter refused, allowing him to become a free agent.
The Cardinals signed Carpenter prior to the 2003 season, hoping he would be ready by mid-season. He was forced to sit out the entire 2003 season due to a torn labrum. However, Carpenter came back with an impressive 2004, helping the Cardinals win the National League pennant for the first time since 1987. In September, Carpenter was benched with a nerve problem in his right biceps, ending his season and causing him to miss the 2004 World Series.
In 2005, Carpenter posted his best year to date. He set career bests in ERA (2.83), strikeouts (213), innings pitched (241.7), complete games (7) and shutouts (4) while amassing a 21–5 record for the Division Champion Cardinals. While not a leader in any one statistical category in 2005, he was selected over Dontrelle Willis as the National League Cy Young Award winner. He also was selected as the starter for the National League in the 2005 All Star Game.
Carpenter was healthy for the post-season. Although the Cardinals lost to the Houston Astros in the National League Championship Series, he pitched well throughout the postseason, going 2–0 with a 2.14 ERA in 21 innings against the San Diego Padres and Houston.
Carpenter continued pitching well throughout the 2006 season, achieving personal feats such as striking out a career-high 13 batters on June 13, 2006 against the Pittsburgh Pirates and winning his 100th career game on September 16, 2006 beating the San Francisco Giants 6–1. Carpenter became the third member of the St. Louis Cardinals pitching staff to get his 100th career win in 2006, after Jeff Suppan and Mark Mulder. Carpenter was also voted on the 2006 All-Star game, and finished third in the Cy Young Award voting.
Carpenter won his first career World Series start in Game 3 against the Detroit Tigers on October 24, 2006 at Busch Stadium in St. Louis, Missouri by pitching eight innings and allowing no runs on three hits. In his first eight career post-season starts, he had a 5–1 record with a 2.53 ERA in 53.3 innings.
On December 4, 2006, the Cardinals announced they had re-signed Carpenter to a five-year, $65 million deal, keeping Carpenter with the team through 2011, with a $12 million option for 2012.
On July 30, 2008, Carpenter made his first Major League start since Opening Day 2007, 486 days, against the Atlanta Braves. He lasted four innings, gave up one run on five hits (all singles), walking two and striking out two, on 67 pitches (36 strikes). Though Carpenter got the no decision, the Cardinals went on to win the game 7–2.
After making only one start in 2007, and only three starts in the 2008 season, Carpenter gave a stunning one-hit performance in his first start of the 2009 season against Pittsburgh, shutting them out in seven innings, walking two while striking out seven at Busch Stadium. He faced only 26 batters, five over the minimum, and threw 92 pitches—61 for strikes. It was his 101st career win, against only 70 losses (.591 win pct.).
On May 20, Carpenter returned after missing a month. He pitched five shutout innings giving up only three hits, walking two, and striking out five. He threw only 67 pitches, 41 for strikes. The Cards won the pitching duel with the Cubs, 2–1. With his win, Carpenter raised his winning percentage with the club to .726 (53–20), highest ever by a Cardinal through his first 100 starts. Further, he boasted a 3.04 ERA (230 ER in 680.2 IP) for his Cardinal career to that point. John Tudor was the previous win percentage leader after 100 starts (49–21 .700) as a Cardinal. Carpenter's four strikeouts gave him 571 in his 100th start, one less than Bob Gibson had in his first 100 starts.
On June 4, he threw his 26th career complete game, and lowered his ERA for the season to 0.71, the lowest for any Cardinals' pitcher in the first six starts of a season, breaking Harry Brecheen's mark of 0.75 set in 1948.
He won his first Pitcher of the Month award (August 2009) with his 5–0, 2.20 ERA in six starts.
For the second time in his career, he won the NL Comeback Player of the Year, after leading the NL with a 2.24 ERA – his first league title in the category – and an .810 winning percentage (17–4). He was also the runner-up for the National League Cy Young award, sandwiched in the voting between teammate Adam Wainwright and winner Tim Lincecum.
He won the 2009 Tony Conigliaro Award (January 11, 2010) unanimously, given annually to a Major League Baseball player who best overcomes an obstacle and adversity through the attributes of spirit, determination and courage that were trademarks of Tony Conigliaro.
Since first pitching for the Cardinals in 2004, he was 68–24 through his first six seasons with the club, his .739 winning percentage the highest in team history through 2009.
He presently owns the Cardinals' starting pitching record for the highest Win Pct. in their history (92-41, 0.692) .
Carpenter resides in St. Louis with his wife Alyson, son Sam, and daughter Ava.