Carp and Waino: The dynamic duo that barely was

The news Thursday that Adam Wainwright would require season-ending Tommy John surgery put an early damper on the Cardinals’ playoff chances, further clouded the future of Albert Pujols in St. Louis — and may have put an end to one of the best pitching duos of the new millennium.

In fact, there is a very good chance that the dynamic pitching pair of Wainwright and Chris Carpenter has ceased to exist.

If so, we barely got our fill.

Wainwright won’t be pitching this season. We know that. What we don’t know is what the future holds for either of them, and there’s enough haziness to seriously doubt both will be together as Cardinals in 2012.

Since the 29-year-old Wainwright finished in the Top 5 in Cy Young voting at least once over the previous two years — actually, he finished in the Top 3 twice — all he needed to do to trigger his 2012 and ’13 club options (totaling $21 million) was not finish this season on the disabled list. Now, he will. And now, the Cardinals have a choice on whether or not to pick up his options (both must be picked up at the same time).

Surely, $9 million in 2012 and $12 million in 2013 is a pretty good bargain for one of the best pitchers in baseball, especially given Tommy John surgery’s sparkling track record. But who knows what the state of the Cardinals will be at that point, given Pujols and possibly manager Tony La Russa — he holds a mutual option for 2012 — may not be there if the 2011 season is an unsuccessful one.

That brings us to Carpenter.

The 35-year-old (36 on April 27) has a $15 million club option on his contract for the 2012 season. With the Cardinals likely trying to save every penny to sign Pujols to the lucrative extension he seeks, it’s hard to envision them picking up the options of both Wainwright and Carpenter (perhaps either).

It’d be understandable, but also a shame, because it’d mean we didn’t get to see enough of this spectacular duo of pitchers. Carp was recovering from his own Tommy John surgery when Waino burst onto the scene as a starter in ’07. And now, Waino’s own elbow-ligament damage could put an early end to these two leading the Cardinals’ rotation.

But that’s all speculation at this point. So here is some hard evidence of just how good they were in the only two years they were together (2009 and 2010), brought to you by my friends at the Elias Sports Bureau …

* During that time, the two combined for 72 wins — the most by teammates in a two-year span since Pedro Martinez and Derek Lowe matched them in Boston from 2002-03.

* Their combined winning percentage of .692 (72-32) ranked second among starting-pitching teammates since ’09 (minimum 40 starts each). First were CC Sabathia and Andy Pettitte, who combined for a .714 winning percentage (65-26).

* Their combined ERA of 2.65 over the last two seasons is the most by starting-pitching teammates in a two-year span since Roger Clemens and Roy Oswalt combined for a 2.57 ERA in Houston from 2005-06 (minimum 40 starts each).

* Combined, Wainwright and Carpenter notched three Top 3 finishes in Cy Young voting in their two-year span. That hasn’t happened since Clemens and Oswalt did it from 2004-05.

— Alden Gonzalez

** Check out my column on how Wainwright’s injury affects the landscape of the National League Central   

1 Comment

francesca – 4 1/2 years is just as wonderful and iersmpsive! your bf is one lucky guy. thank you for the sweet comments!miss katie – i think i might be as excited for your upcoming day as you are. it will be the event of the year, i can feel it. cannot wait to see the photos, friend. xoall my other darling blog friends – your kind and delightful thoughts are the bright spot of my day. i adore you madly….thank you!

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