The official rotation plan has always been to have Carpenter in line to start Sunday against Milwaukee if the Cardinals haven't yet clinched. But with the prospect of a makeup game on Monday, I'm not sure that still makes sense -- at least not if the Cardinals are ahead by either 1 1/2 or 1/2 and therefore have a chance to clinch on Sunday. Here's why:
First off, here's the traditional NLDS schedule. (I don't think any official schedule has been announced yet.)
Tues - Game 1 (for Series A)
Wed - Game 1 (for Series B)
Thurs - Game 2 (for both)
Fri - off day
Sat - Game 3 (for both)
Sun - Game 4 (for both)
Mon - Game 5 (for both)
Assume Carp starts Sunday, and the Cards make the playoffs. The only way to then get him two NLDS starts is to send him on short rest both times -- on Thursday and Monday. Given the fatigue he showed in his last outing, that strikes me as a bad idea. Much more likely, he pitches just once, in Game 3 on Saturday -- on five days' rest.
But let's say instead that the team starts someone else Sunday, holding Carp back. If the Monday game proves unnecessary, Carp can start Game 1 and then either Game 4 or Game 5 on regular rest. If the makeup game is necessary, Carp starts it, and he's still in line to start Game 3 on regular rest.
Two significant downsides worth considering. First, having to play the makeup game might put some strain on the rest of the team -- there's something to be said for trying to close things out as quickly as possible to give Rolen, the bullpen, etc. an extra day to rest. Second, it's not clear who, if not Carp, WOULD pitch on Sunday. The only real candidates are Narveson (my choice) or a bullpen game. But given how key Carp is to the team's playoff prospects, I'd say it's worth holding him back to increase the chances of giving him a second NLDS start. Update [2006-9-29 8:44:16 by DCGreg]: LaRussa said in Friday's paper that Carp was on for Sunday. I'd like to think he might rethink that.