Chris Carpenter's comeback isn't about the statistics

Posted by Scott Wuerz on July 22, 2013 

It's true that the numbers aren't pretty.

St. Louis Cardinals starter Chris Carpenter has racked up a 9.00 ERA with 15 hits allowed in six innings of work against Class AA and Class AAA hitters.

But, as is the case so often in baseball, I don't care what the numbers say. The numbers Carpenter is putting up now have absolutely no more weight that spring training numbers. Remember back in March when Shane Robinson and Oscar Taveras were the best hitters on the team?

The reasons why the numbers are meaningless now are the same reason they're meaningless in spring training: The goals aren't the same. Carpenter isn't going out to the mound trying to do anything he can to try to win the game that happens to be on the schedule that night. He's going out for the purpose of trying to regain a feeling for his pitches.

You can throw batting practice every day for a year and it's not the same thing as trying to get hitters out in a game situation. But Carpenter hasn't been on a mound with anything close to his best stuff since the end of the 2011 World Series. Did we expect there not to be any rust?

According to all the reports I have read, Carpenter has hit 94 miles an hour on the radar guns in the minor league parks where he has pitched. That's really the only stat that matters, because it's an indication that the big righty's arm is sound. Walks, hits and runs don't enter the equation right now.

The only way we will really know if Carpenter's rehab is going as planned is when he says it is... or that it isn't.

The 2005 Cy Young Award winner doesn't seem like the kind of guy who is into fooling himself or his friends and fans. So we'll see, maybe as soon as today, if he's ready to take another step or if he's ready to call it a career.

But more than the performance on the field Saturday, it's how his arm feels after that start that is going to dictate what the future holds.

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