Originally Posted by Falls City Beer
I don't think Houston will be in that much trouble. I don't think the Cardinals lose much if they lose Carpenter for 15 starts.
In theory, any team's in trouble if they lose their ace; in reality, some teams find themselves in a lot deeper trouble than others when their ace goes down.
It's my anecdotal observation that "little engine that could" teams need not only talent, but good breaks, to unseat standing powers.
Houston has lost its ace and I'd argue it is in trouble unless he comes back. You're talking about a 60-run difference between Clemens and the mortal that tries to replace him. The Astros can't afford that. With that offense, they won't be able to stick with the playoff contenders unless the pitching goes lights out again.
I don't think the Astros are going to fall apart, but I don't think they're a serious playoff contender without Clemens.
I agree that the Cardinals could weather Carpenter. That's what a sick offense, class defense, strong bullpen and rotation depth will do for you. St. Louis is a machine.
You're right that smaller market teams rely on key players a bit more. For instance, the Twins can't compete unless Johan Santana gives the team his full Monty. The Brewers are probably in a similar situation with Sheets, though the pitching is still pretty good beyond Sheets and the offense is deep and getting better. IMO, what that team needs Sheets for is getting past the Cardinals. With him taking the ball every fifth day, the Brewers can (though not necessarily will) do it. Without that it becomes a much longer shot.