Chris Carpenter's never been a conventional ace. When he emerged as the 2005 Cy Young, he was an ex-prospect with lingering shoulder problems who nevertheless threw an MLB-leading seven complete games. When he came back in 2009, after two years of additional arm problems, he returned as a fragile pitcher who won his first ever ERA title in 28 starts. Then, of course: Two years as an inning-eater who could put the team on his back and pitch forever. Last year he led the National League in innings pitched and the majors in postseason innings.
His recent struggle with neck problems has left Cardinals fans wondering what the rotation would look like without Carp, and because of all that chameleonic transformation among the ace genres it's been hard to tell exactly what they'd be missing.
His recent bullpen session suggests it's not something we'll have to worry about in earnest this month, but so far as I can tell, the current model of Chris Carpenter—given the health to make 30 starts—can be counted on to go deep into games whether Mike Matheny wants him to or not. He'll take on pitch counts younger starters aren't allowed; he'll scream and glare until he's forced a quality start out of his taped-up shoulder.
You'd miss it, no matter how well Lance Lynn pitches.