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The New Old Chris Carpenter

A while back on Viva El Birdos we ran a piece on the strange way in which Chris Carpenter pitched badly, on the rare occasions in which he actually pitched badly. In his heyday, both from 2004-2006 and in 2009, when he pitched poorly it just so happened that his control was somehow even better than it was in starts when he pitched well—he struck out a ton of batters and allowed no walks but also allowed a lot of hits and home runs. 

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Carpenter at his worst is scary-the fastballs that Hart and Weeks hit out of the park were in the batting practice part of the zone, and he wasn't about to adjust to his B- stuff by staying out of the zone. If his velocity doesn't recover he'll have to change his plans at some point, and the adjustment period might not be aesthetically pleasing. But his poor performances to start the season are in keeping with the poor performances he's always mixed in with the good ones, and with the rigid pitching style that produces such outstanding results 85% of the time. It'll be time to worry about his stuff when he thinks it's gone, and when that happens we'll be able to tell; he'll have some conventionally bad outings, for a change.

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This change may well have happened; yesterday Carpenter walked four batters, but also struck out seven, in his eight shutout innings. It was the second time in three starts that Carpenter had walked a lot of batters to go with his strikeouts, and still pitched very well. Carpenter's strikeout rate is higher this year than last, and it may be that in the wake of his home run-happy start he's been less likely to keep his pitches rigidly in the strike zone when he's not sure the cutter has the old zip. 

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I say: Whatever works.