December 3, 2012 at 6:24 pm by Ethan Purser under Atlanta Braves
The Braves claimed right-handed pitcher David Carpenter off of waivers from the Boston Red Sox.
Last week was a big week for the Braves. The team inked free agent outfielder BJ Upton to a 5 year, $75.25 million deal on Thursday, filling the hole in center field left by Michael Bourn. On Friday, the Braves also made waves in the trade market by sending Tommy Hanson to the Los Angeles Angels for reliever Jordan Walden. Shortly after the trade, the Braves announced that David Carpenter had been claimed off waivers from the Red Sox. While this move definitely pales in comparison to the others, Carpenter has an interesting background and could play a role in the bullpen in 2013.
The St. Louis Cardinals drafted Carpenter in 2006 as a catcher out of West Virginia University. He spent portions of 2006 through 2008 behind the plate before he was moved to the bullpen during the 2008 season. Since being moved to the mound, he has produced solid numbers across all levels of the minors, posting a 3.02 ERA with 215 strikeouts and 78 walks in 202.1 innings of work, allowing only 181 hits and 12 home runs during this time.
After being traded for Pedro Feliz in 2010, Carpenter made his Major League debut in 2011 with the Houston Astros. He pitched 27.2 innings, posting a 2.93 ERA/4.18 FIP with 29 strikeouts and 13 walks, seven of which being of the intentional variety. He was traded to the Toronto Blue Jays in a ten-player deal last July. He pitched 32.1 innings between the two clubs, posting an 8.07 ERA/4.86 FIP with 31 strikeouts and 16 walks, allowing 51 hits and five home runs. Along with Mike Aviles, Carpenter was sent by the Blue Jays to the Red Sox as compensation for the hiring of John Farrell. The Red Sox designated him for assignment on November 20th.
The 6’2″, 215-pound righty brings two pitches to the table: a mid-90s fastball and a mid-80s slider. When all is well, the fastball features plus to plus-plus velocity with heavy arm-side run into the hands of right-handed hitters; other times, the fastball is straight with very little movement. Carpenter has trouble locating the fastball on a consistent basis, frequently missing high and to the arm side or low and to the glove side. Due to the speed of the pitch and the late movement it often generates, Carpenter can induce swings and misses within the strike zone with the offering. The slider features heavy tilt and sweep when located down and away to right-handed hitters/down and in to left-handed hitters, profiling as a swing-and-miss pitch. He runs into trouble when he misses his spots with the offering, as the pitch tends to hang and become slurvy with much softer break when thrown to the arm side. Manny Machado took advantage of this here.
Using Brooks Baseball’s Pitch F/X database, Carpenter’s fastball has generated 95 whiffs out of 433 swings over his 60 innings in the majors, good for whiff/swing of 119 (using PitchIQ Score, where 100 is average). His slider, which has generated 59 whiffs out of 145 swings, has a whiff/swing of 118. The data suggest that the two pitches profile as swing-and-miss offerings.
Mechanically, Carpenter has a quick and live arm with a deep, elbowy arm action. He tends to fly open in his delivery, which causes his arm to drag behind the rest of his body, limiting the accuracy and efficacy of his pitches—specifically his slider. Pitchers who fly open will frequently miss high and to the arm side, as their arm must rush in order to catch up to the rest of their body. He lands on a very stiff front leg, cutting off his pitches and losing valuable length on the front side. All-arm throwers not unlike Carpenter will also frequently exhibit severe head-jerks as they deliver the ball, which often has a negative effect on overall control.
Going into Spring Training, Carpenter will presumably compete with Cory Gearrin for the final right-handed spot in the bullpen. Given Gearrin’s performance in 2012, his track record with the club, and his effectiveness against right-handed hitters, I would put my money on Gearrin winning the spot, although a strong performance from Carpenter in the spring could turn heads*. All in all, having a superfluous power arm when constructing a bullpen is a good problem to have, as it opens up a bit of flexibility in the event that a reliever is traded in the coming weeks—a possibility Ben explored Friday.
*For the record, Gearrin and Carpenter both have one option year remaining.