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Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Praise Be To Whatever God You Pray To

here is joy in Cardinal Nation. Chris Carpenter is ok. Well, pretty much ok. After a surprisingly smooth and speedy road to recovery (as far as Tommy John surgery is concerned), Carpenter hit a speed bump. But at least it wasn’t a brick wall. There was speculation that a second surgery would be required after the former Cy Young winner complained of soreness in his newly reconstructed elbow. After a few different medical opinions and a few mild heart attacks by passionate Cardinal fans, it turns out that one surgery was enough and the soreness is merely a minor setback. Carp will be backed up a couple of days and his pitch counts will likely be reduced, but after a few simulated starts he should be right back to where he was before this new scare came into play.

His projected return to the rotation, barring any other setbacks of course, should be somewhere between late July and early August. And Chris Carpenter isn’t one to mess around with his health. You can bet your sweet caboose that he won’t come back unless he is fully healthy, or at least at a point where he can be effective and help the team win. Basically the opposite of what we’ve seen so far from Mark Mulder since his inexplicably frail arm crapped out in 2006.

So, with Carpenter’s return and assuming Wainwright and Wellemeyer recover on schedule, the Cardinals rotation for the final 2 months of the season will look something like this:

1. Chris Carpenter

2. Adam Wainwright

3. Todd Wellemeyer

4. Kyle Lohse

5. Braden Looper/Joel Pineiro

Not too shabby eh? The above rotation represents quite a formidable jump from a patchwork of rookies and reclamation projects that have gotten by on guts and spot starts, to one of the most imposing groups in the National League, if not all of baseball. There can’t be a manager in the game that would look forward to facing a healthy Carpenter, Wainwright and Wellemeyer in a 5-game series.

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