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Cardinals vs. Nationals: Chris Carpenter has lots of experience, none of it recent, before Game 3

Chris Carpenter is starting in Game 3 of the NLDS. This would not be surprising to a St. Louis Cardinals fan in 2011, or 2010, or 2009, but 2007, 2008, 2012? The Washington Nationals will be facing, Wednesday at noon, a pitcher who threw 17 innings this year—who had almost no experience at all in 2012 and also is 9-2 in 15 postseason starts. His last NLDS start was a three-hitter to beat Roy Halladay in Game 5; it's also his eighth-most-recent start period.

The Nationals will counter not with Stephen Strasburg but Edwin Jackson, who was on that same roster back in 2011. Jackson's a reassuringly average innings-eater, but he's not Strasburg, because nobody is. But the Nats have valued Strasburg's future innings over the ones he might provide today—even though they can't know the cost in future innings they might be skimping.

And so, two starters have been chosen for reasons that stretch beyond what happened last year. Davey Johnson and Mike Matheny are both playing hunches here; Wednesday, while you're sitting down to lunch, one of those hunches is going to pay off. The other is going to feed sports talk radio for the rest of the month, at least. For more on this weird paradox—well, I wrote several hundred words about it on Viva El Birdos.