Can the St. Louis Cardinals Fill the Carpenter-Sized Hole in Their Rotation?

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

The Cardinals will turn to a trio of young arms as they attempt to fill the void left by their veteran right-hander.

With the unfortunate news that Chris Carpenter's thoracic outlet syndrome will likely keep him from throwing a pitch in 2013, the St. Louis Cardinals find themselves attempting to fill a Carpenter-sized hole in the starting rotation for the second straight season. Since the news broke last week, the excellence with which Carpenter pitched while wearing the birds on the bat has been well-chornicled. There is no question losing Carpenter hurts the Redbirds. I thought we might use the publicly-available projections for Carpenter and his potential replacements to attempt to get an idea of how much.

CARPENTER: WHAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN

To start we need to get an idea of what Carpenter would have given the Cardinals had his physical health permitted him to pitch. The projections systems are varied in this regard and understandably so. Carpenter's 2013 would have been his age 38 season. The righty would have been two years removed from leading the league with 237.1 innings pitched and posting a 3.45 ERA en route to a 5.0-fWAR season. Last year, he managed to make just three starts and tally 17.0 IP. Utilizing his recent seasons and considering the regression that comes with age, the projection systems found a range possibilities for Carpenter in 2013. The following chart contains those and an average of them.

CHRIS CARPENTER

Projection

GS

IP

K/9

BB/9

HR/9

ERA

FIP

Steamer

27

171.0

6.10

2.50

1.06

4.01

3.78

Oliver

-

135.0

6.40

2.27

0.67

3.60

3.46

Bill James

30

202.0

7.00

2.09

0.62

3.25

3.46

ZiPS

13

91.7

7.17

2.06

0.69

3.73

3.21

Average

23

150.0

6.67

2.19

0.76

3.65

3.41

The average of the systems has Carpenter throwing 150 innings with a 3.65 ERA and 3.41 FIP. That's a valuable pitcher, one difficult to replace on the field.

THE POTENTIAL REPLACEMENTS

The Cardinals will have Joe Kelly, Trevor Rosenthal, and Shelby Miller compete for a spot in the big-league rotation. The young pitchers each have their pluses and minuses. Kelly has his power sinker, Rosenthal a power fastball, and Miller an excellent fastball/curve combination. The projection systems give interesting forecasts for them. The publicly available projections for Bill James don't see Kelly making a single start and Fangraphs has no Bill James projection for either Miller or Rosenthal.

JOE KELLY

Projection

GS

IP

K/9

BB/9

HR/9

ERA

FIP

Steamer

13

126.0

6.09

3.61

0.70

4.30

4.04

Oliver

-

141.0

5.87

3.96

0.51

4.53

3.95

Bill James

0

67.0

6.45

3.09

0.67

4.16

3.73

ZiPS

28

168.3

5.83

3.31

0.69

4.12

3.98

Average

20.2*

154.7*

6.06

3.49

0.64

4.28

3.93

TREVOR ROSENTHAL

Projection

GS

IP

K/9

BB/9

HR/9

ERA

FIP

Steamer

5

81.0

8.12

3.85

0.80

3.66

3.81

Oliver

-

100.0

7.33

3.80

0.63

3.98

3.73

Bill James

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

ZiPS

21

123.0

8.34

3.73

0.88

3.80

3.95

Average

9

101.1

7.93

3.79

0.77

3.81

3.83

SHELBY MILLER

Projection

GS

IP

K/9

BB/9

HR/9

ERA

FIP

Steamer

20

125.0

7.93

3.84

0.90

4.03

3.99

Oliver

-

129.0

9.06

3.83

0.91

4.67

3.77

Bill James

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

ZiPS

26

132.7

8.68

4.82

0.68

4.14

3.93

Average

23

129

8.56

4.16

0.83

4.28

3.90

Averaging out the various projection forecasts for each of the youngsters doesn't give any of them a clear leg up. There isn't much difference between Rosenthal's 3.83 FIP, Miller's 3.90 FIP, and Kelly's 3.93 FIP. Going by stuff would seem to give Rosenthal and Miller, with their better curves, a bit of an advantage. However, against their more well-rounded repertoire stands Kelly's power sinker and MLB track record. On the eve of pitchers and catchers reporting to camp, the competition for No. 5 starter during camp appears to be one of genuine intrigue.

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