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Spring Training 2011: Chris Carpenter Still Not 100% For Cardinals

The Post-Dispatch reported Monday that Chris Carpenter, the St. Louis Cardinals' number-one starter with Adam Wainwright recovering from elbow surgery, threw briefly in a practice session on Sunday, representing a limited improvement in his condition following his injury-shortened Spring Training debut. Carpenter's still "not going all out", according to Rick Hummel, but he's able to pitch, which makes him the Cardinals' healthiest ace.

Carpenter was outstanding and mostly healthy in 2009, and he was good and extremely healthy in 2010; considering he'd made four starts in the previous two years that run of health and performance has been a remarkable surprise. In post-Wainwright 2011 the Cardinals need one more 28-start season out of their ostensibly fragile ace; it's a tough thing to rely on, but that's the position they find themselves in. 

The good news—the last time he suffered a leg injury in Spring Training was 2009. Based on this sample size I can state definitively that Carpenter will go 17-4 with a 2.24 ERA across 28 starts this season. Given the recent change in run environment it will be a slight decline from those 2009 heights, but it should be enough to get the Cardinals' through Wainwright's year-long vacation.