Carter didn't pitch badly tonight, he made some nice pitches and even the home run was on a good pitch, Matsui is a great hitter and was able to pull it out of the yard. The problem was that things happen with balls in play and Carter allows a lot of balls in play. I know I harp on this a lot but it's very important, you have to strike hitters out. With a terrible K/9 like Carter's 3.78 he can NOT be relied on to come into critical situations. Good control helps but he is a big risk out there since he's totally at the mercy of balls in play.
I'm not blaming Lou for using him tonight in that situation (but I disagreed with him taking Fossum out) since he had been successful and most of the bullpen hadn't. I don't trust him though, you have to have at least a mediocre K/9 for extended success, the only shot you have without it is to be an extreme groundballer, which Carter isn't (he's an extreme flyball pitcher).
The thing about Carter is part of something else I rely on a lot, Defense Independent Pitching Statisitcs (DIPS). That is the theory and the statistic (DIPS ERA) resulting from it that goes mainly by walks, strikeouts, and home runs to determine how well a pitcher is pitching without dealing with balls in play, which can be very random due to defense or luck. This is most useful though over full seasons since, like with Carter tonight, performances can be deceptive and DIPS doesn't always work. Check out Fossum's lines from his past two starts.
Vs MIL: 7 IP, 9 H, 4 R, 10 K, 1 BB, 0 HR, 5.14 ERA, 1.37 DIPS ERA
Vs NYY: 7 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 5 K, 3 BB, 0 HR, 1.29 ERA, 3.15 DIPS ERA
DIPS tells us that Fossum pitched much better against Milwaukee. Although I think he was unlucky and shouldn't have given up that many runs to the Brewers it was clear to me watching both games that his New York performance was far better. He didn't get all the Ks and had two more walks but the Yankees couldn't get anything against him. They were lunging, flinching, and looking generally uncomfortable at the plate. The Brewers missed a lot but they also were able to smack the ball around some, not real strongly but well enough.
I'm a very strong believer in the power of statistics and relying on the numbers I believe in to judge performances but using DIPS (which isn't meant for small sample sizes anyway) would tell you the wrong thing about Fossum's last two games. It's great to read the stats but you have to see stuff with your own eyes too.
David mentioned it earlier today but the Fossum for Cruz trade was an absolute steal. Cruz is injured and ineffective (especially once you adjust his hitting numbers for his home park) while Fossum looks like the best starter on the Rays staff at the moment. Cruz was gone after this season anyway, Fossum can't be a free agent for two more seasons (and the awful years in Arizona will lower his arbitration paydays a bit). Gotta credit ol' Chuckie for that one, he traded away mediocrity for performance and potential.