Roy Halladay vs. Chris Carpenter: Breaking Down Key Game 5 Pitching Matchup

October 6, 2011 by  
Filed under Fan News

When Game 2 of the National League Divisional Series between the Cardinals and Phillies entered the fourth inning, the series was, in the minds of many, nearly over. Heavily favored Philadelphia armed with baseball’s best record and a pitching staff made up of a good chunk of the likely National League Cy Young award voting had already won Game 1 in a rout. 

Now they took a 4-0 lead into the fourth inning at home with Cliff Lee on the mound. Then suddenly momentum began to shift.

St. Louis plated three runs in the fourth, then one more in the sixth to tie the game 4-4. The Cardinals pushed the go-ahead run over the plate in the seventh inning and would hold on to win the game 5-4. It was a big win, and, in spite of the Phillies bouncing back to win a tight game three on Tuesday 3-2, it was the Cardinals that came through in Busch Stadium on Wednesday to even the series and send it back to Philadelphia.

This is one of those situations where home field advantage is not really an advantage at all. All the pressure in on the Phillies on Friday night. Philadelphia was supposed to win this series. In fact, they’re the prohibitive favorites to win the entire World Series.

On Friday night, though, all that matters is winning that one game. The decisive game five. The Phillies will send Cy Young winner and ace Roy Halladay to the mound. He’ll be opposed by the Cardinals own ace, Chris Carpenter.

To say this is a ” big matchup” would be an understatement.

Halladay is the guy that won the Cy Young last year, he’s the guy that pitched a no-hitter in game one of the NLDS last year against a very good Reds offense that featured 2010 National League Most Valuable Player Joey Votto.

Halladay is also a former Blue Jay  prospect and draft pick from the nineties. Chris Carpenter is as well.  Halladay was a first round pick in 1995.  Carpenter was a first round draft pick in 1993. Both were selected by the Blue Jays. Both came up through the Blue Jays’ farm system together, traversing through places like Dunedin, Knoxville and Syracuse.

Both men made it to the big leagues. Carpenter played in Toronto from 1997 until 2002. Halladay didn’t arrive until 1998 but he stayed longer ( until 2009 ) and found more success as well, winning his first Cy Young in 2003, and making seven all-star appearances in a Blue Jay uniform.

Carpenter had to leave Toronto to find success similar to Halladay. He arrived in St. Louis in 2004 and played in the World Series. He won his Cy Young in 2005. 2006 brought another World Series appearance and, this time, a ring to go with it.

Now the two former farm hands find themselves squaring off head-to-head with their respective teams’ post-season lives on the line. Halladay pitched in Game 1 of this series. He had a rocky first inning in which he gave up a three run home run to Lance Berkman, but he righted the ship and cruised all the way through the end of the eighth inning without giving up another run in an eventual 11-6 Philadelphia victory. 

Carpenter took the mound in Game 2. He was ineffective right from the get go and had a forgettable outing in which he went only three innings, gave up five hits and allowed four earned runs. It was a rough night for Carpenter, but the Cardinals would win the game and shift momentum in the series. 

Now that momentum has brought about Friday’s matchup against his old friend Roy Halladay. There’s very little question that both men are exceptional pitchers, there’s also little question that Halladay has had a better resume. Some of that is due to health. Something that Halladay has had a lot of and Carpenter has had only in short bouts. 

They’re both healthy for this matchup though. Halladay will bear down on hitters with both a cut and a sinking fastball. They move in opposite directions and he can seemingly throw them for strikes at will. Think of Halladay like Mariano Rivera but with a second pitch. Then throw in a change-up that also sinks, making it nearly indistinguishable from his sinking fastball when released, as well as an above average curve ball, and you’ve got a pitcher that has no-hit potential every time he takes the mound.

Carpenter will counter with his own arsenal. He doesn’t posses the multi-faceted fastball attack that Halladay does, but he still gets his fastball up to 94 miles per hour. Carpenter does throw an effective slider and his big breaking curveball can be lethal when his location is on. 

There will be a ton of pressure on the Philadelphia offense, which has always been assumed to be the team’s weakness, to produce runs early and get Halladay a lead that they hope he can capitalize on.

The early innings will be key.

LaRussa can’t wait for a shaky Carpenter to find his location, and, if it’s off like it was in Game 2, the Cardinals could find themselves in big trouble, and Carpenter could find himself in the showers.

If the game remains close and low scoring, then the pressure will mount on the Phillies.

The offense could begin to press as the game gets into the later innings, and that plays into the hands of a skilled veteran like Carpenter. Plus, the Cardinals do have arguably baseball’s most lethal offensive force in Albert Pujols in the lineup. Even a pitcher like Halladay isn’t above making a slight mistake, and Pujols doesn’t often miss an opportunity to take advantage.

Give a slight advantage to hometown Philadelphia and Roy Halladay but beware of a close late-inning game and a hitter like Albert Pujols.  

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Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies