ST. LOUIS (KSDK) - Hall of Fame baseball writer Rick Hummel is preparing for his 35th Cardinals spring training assignment for the Post-Dispatch. He thought he'd be covering Chris Carpenter next week.
"I had conceded that his days as ace of the staff were over but I didn't know that he wouldn't be pitching at all," said Hummel, reacting to the news that Carpenter would miss the entire 2013 season with the same nerve issue that sidelined him much of 2012.
The conversation turned to Carpenter's reputation as a big game pitcher in post-season competition, and comparisons to Hall of Famer Bob Gibson, a big game pitcher from another era. Hummel said the post-season comparisons are valid. Gibson's post-season record, 7-and-2, Carpenter's 10-and-4. Both men were the aces of two World Series champions.
"There's not many right handed pitchers who would be ahead of Carpenter if you looked at the top five, let's say, of all time right-handers, led by Gibson of course," said Hummel. "Carpenter would be right in that top five or six I think. He was very hard on himself. You could tell that he gave all that he had to offer every game, especially the post season games in which he was better than he was during the regular season."
Hummel's signature moment for Carpenter? His 1-0 complete game shutout against the Phillies' Roy Halladay in Game 5 of the 2011 National League Divisional series.
"He was smiling throughout the whole game, and LaRussa said 'why are you smiling?' And Carpenter said 'I'm having fun, alright?" said Hummel. "As you went along watching the game, it was 1-0 through the 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, you're saying I think I've seen all the scoring in this game. This game's over. And it was."