Andrew Carpenter (1-0, 3.86) pitched his best game of the season Monday night and produced the longest outing of the season by any IronPigs pitcher so far.
When you look at Carpenter, he doesn't give the image of a guy you figure is going to look smooth on the mound. At 6' 3", 225 pounds, Carpenter is a little on the large side, but he looked very smooth in setting down Pawtucket.
Carpenter was generally in the upper-80s with his fastball and was able to drop his change-up down as low as 76 on the stadium gun. His curve isn't devastating, but he was able to keep it right around the corners of the plate and had a lot of hitters chasing the pitch and hitting it weakly into play.
Perhaps the best thing that Carpenter showed was his ability to get ahead of hitters. It wasn't until the sixth inning that he ran a 2-0 count on a hitter. He was also able to use his pitches efficiently and keep his pitch count low - 77 pitches, 49 for strikes - which enabled him to pitch deep into the game. He averaged 92 pitches in his first three starts of the season and was only able to pitch as deep as six innings in any of those starts. The fact that he got ahead in the count and put hitters away was a good sign, because ironically, he's struggled to get hitters out when he gets ahead of them.
Carpenter was also able to get off to a good start, which has plagued him in his career. Coming into this outing, Carpenter had an ERA of 9.00 in the first and second innings of his starts with Lehigh Valley this season. In his last start, against Syracuse, he gave up two first inning walks and a second inning, two-run home run to Pete Orr. On Monday, he put Pawtucket away in order in the first, but did give up a double and a walk in the second, only to work out of the jam by getting a double-play ball to end the inning.
While Lehigh Valley picked up a 2-1 win over Pawtucket, the decision went to reliever Tyler Walker (1-0, 0.00), who picked up the win with three perfect innings of relief in the 12 inning 'Pigs win.
There are really just two things that Carpenter needs to work on. First, he needs to get a few more ground balls out of hitters. And second, he needs to watch his conditioning. He got himself into trouble with that last season and he can't let it happen again.