2011 World Series: On The State Of Chris Carpenter's Elbow

Chris Carpenter of the St. Louis Cardinals speaks to ESPN commentator Peter Gammons at Busch Stadium on October 26, 2011 in St Louis, Missouri. Game 6 of the World Series between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Texas Rangers has been postposed by Major League Baseball because of rainy weather. The game has been rescheduled for tomorrow night. Game 7, if necessary, will now be played on Friday night. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

Chris Carpenter could pitch for the Cardinals in a Friday Game 7. Chris Carpenter's elbow has been the subject of much conversation. What's the deal?

Wednesday's World Series rainout was a pretty big deal. It was a pretty big deal, for one thing, because it postponed the World Series. The World Series! And it was a pretty big deal, for another thing, because it pushed a potential Game 7 to Friday. There's no guarantee that we have a Game 7, of course, pending the results of Thursday night's Game 6, but a Friday Game 7 would mean that Cardinals ace Chris Carpenter would be available on three days' rest.

That's been cited as a reason why the rainout was better for the Cardinals than for the Rangers. Sure, the rainout also means that Derek Holland would be available on full rest for a Game 7, but Derek Holland (A) isn't that great anyway, and (B) wouldn't start, because Ron Washington has already committed to Matt Harrison.

So even after his performance in Game 5, we might not have seen the last of Chris Carpenter. But then, one has to wonder: what's going on with his elbow? The health of Carpenter's elbow was a subject of conversation just last week, and the following nugget jumped out at me from the bottom of a Gil LeBreton article:

He has denied it during the World Series, but Carpenter supposedly has been experiencing elbow problems. Between some innings Monday in Arlington, Carpenter eschewed taking his warmup pitches.

Skipping warmup pitches? That sounds like a guy who might be hurting. But then, I tracked down the following from October 3:

Cardinals ace Chris Carpenter had made 338 starts in the majors, and before Sunday none were on short rest. By the third inning, he wasn't throwing warm-up pitches to save his arm.

Carpenter was skipping warmup pitches in the NLDS, too, weeks ago. One interpretation is that he feels just fine. Another interpretation is that he was already kind of hurt when the playoffs began, and has been pitching through it.

I don't know the truth. I suspect only Carpenter knows the real honest truth. Given that he's approaching 270 innings on the season, I'd be surprised if he weren't pitching through some aches. But here's what's most important: Carpenter has declared himself available, and in two starts in this series, he's been effective. He was a little erratic but successful in Game 1, and he was even better in Game 5. His velocity's been fine. He hasn't been afraid to use his curveball. He's located pretty well.

Carpenter might be below 100 percent, and he probably is below 100 percent, but should there be a Game 7, and should Carpenter pitch in it, I don't expect that any elbow issue would be much of a factor. More of a factor might be that he'd be on short rest, as the last time he worked on short rest - the only time he's ever worked on short rest - he was bad. But then, if Carpenter were to pitch, it would probably be for only one or two or three innings - it's doubtful Tony La Russa would be looking for something extended. And that, plus the adrenaline, could mitigate any effect.

There's a long way to go between now and Chris Carpenter taking the mound for the Cardinals in Game 7 of the World Series. But should we get to that point, I expect that Carpenter would be pretty close to his normal, effective, rude-shouty self.

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