Cardinals Game 3 starter Chris Carpenter earned a place in baseball history last year with his performance in the World Series and has an impressive playoff resume overall. This season, however, Carpenter is in a unique situation having made just three total starts since returning from injury.
Carpenter suffered a nerve problem in his shoulder in February and was originally diagnosed to miss the entire season after undergoing surgery in July. But the former Cy Young winner made a quick recovery and returned on September 21 to log 17 innings before entering the postseason.
It is a much different situation compared to last year when Carpenter entered the playoffs with a league-leading 237 13 innings pitched. Despite the excessive workload of last season, the 37-year-old said he would take it over the lack of innings this year if given the choice.
To be honest with you, I'd much rather have all the innings than not the innings, because you know what you're going to get, he said. What have I thrown, 17 innings or something? You know, that's not too many innings to work the kinks out in live games.
Carpenter was admittedly rusty in his three starts this season, but the results werent bad at all. He allowed two runs through five in his first outing against the Cubs and then posted two quality starts to finish the year.
If Carpenter was able to pitch that well during the regular season, he may be even better in the playoffs. His career ERA of 3.76 in 15 MLB seasons is good, but his 3.05 ERA through 94 13 playoff innings is great.
On Tuesday, the day before his Game 3 start, Carpenter explained his love for the postseason.
This is what I live for, he said. I woke up this morning; it's the day before and I got that going in my stomach already.I couldn't wait to get here and talk to the media, do my thing. It's an exciting time."
Most of the Nationals have never played in the playoffs before this year. Against Carpenter, their inexperience will be matched with one of the most playoff seasoned pitchers in baseball.
Obviously hes done a lot, Ryan Zimmerman said. This whole team over there has been in this situation many a time.
Bryce Harper said he didnt watch many of Carpenters 2011 playoff starts, but expects a battle from the 66 ace.
Carpenter is unbelievable. He is an All-Star, hes a competitor out there, he said.
He wants to beat you with all of his stuff. Hes a veteran guy out there and its going to be tough. But its going to be fun, hes unbelievable so Im up for the challenge.
The Nationals haven't faced Carpenter since August 26, 2010.