2005 - Chris Carpenter, St. Louis Cardinals
Stats: 21-5, 2.83 ERA, 213 K's, National League Cy Young Award Winner
There may be some debate over the best pitcher in 2005 - an argument for Johan Santana could be made, as usual - but I'm going with Chris Carpenter, mostly because he went from journeyman pitcher to ace in just two seasons, but also because I have to write about Johan again tomorrow. I'm lapsing in the creative thought department right now. Fucking sue me.
So what defines Carpenter's 2005 campaign? Consistency. Well, that, and the magical healing powers and guidance of Cardinals pitching coach Dave Duncan. Before joining the Birds in '04, Carpenter's ERA never saw a sub-4 standing. Once Duncan took him under his wing, and Carpenter recovered from a torn labrum, he was a new pitcher. And less of a pussy, by the way.
Carpenter turned into a strikeout machine, netting 213 for the season and striking out at least 7 in 15 of his 33 starts. If you subtract his two awful starts that book-ended the season, he would have had an ERA hovering around the 2.00 mark, threatening to drop below. He also pitched 7 complete games, and won two games in the postseason.
And even though Dave Duncan keeps refinancing his soul with the Devil to make sure these reclamation projects continue to fall into his lap, there's no denying that Carpenter deserves the nod for the most-dominate starter of 2005*.
*Besides the aforementioned Johan Santana