Who Will Chris Carpenter Replace In The St. Louis Cardinals' Rotation?

Let's be clear: It's good to have Chris Carpenter back. The St. Louis Cardinals' longest-tenured player—he's been on their disabled list since 2003, and their active roster since 2004—is not only their emotional leader, and a hero of the 2011 postseason, but also one of their five best starting pitchers if he's healthy. But now that it appears he might be making three starts in September, which member of the Cardinals' crowded and inconsistent rotation will he replace?

Lance Lynn, after all—who came in Thursday to replace an injured Jake Westbrook—just won a crucial series opener against the Los Angeles Dodgers to put the Cardinals ahead in the Wild Card race. Joe Kelly came in to replace Lance Lynn, and has been a stalwart since coming up in midseason. And Jaime Garcia and Adam Wainwright, struggling in their own particular ways, are probably too valuable to shut down. Only Kyle Lohse has escaped the Cardinals' rotation's struggles all the way into September.

In the end, maybe bumping all of them might be the best solution. Fatigue has been offered as an explanation for Lynn and Wainwright's struggles; if Chris Carpenter can push them to a six-man rotation in September and the Cardinals can hold on to their second-Wild-Card lead, his presence on the roster could leave whichever pitchers make the postseason roster better-rested than the average October starters.

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