The first time Jack Flaherty came off the injured list, he wasn’t quite himself.
It was clear that the St. Louis Cardinals had rushed him back and that he wasn’t quite ready to return.
Just three starts in, Flaherty found himself back on the IL with more shoulder troubles.
But after a few months of recovery, the Cards activated their Opening Day starter from 2021 and he did not disappoint, pitching five innings of one-run ball against the Washington Nationals.
Unfortunately, the Cardinals offense let Flaherty down and the bullpen faltered, resulting in a 6-0 loss.
In his outing yesterday, Flaherty struck out six batters and walked just one.
Here's Andre Pallante in relief, and Jack Flaherty's final line:
5 IP, 1 ER, 6 H, 1 BB, 6 K, 1 HBP, 91 pitches/59 strikes.
The FB velocity touched 96/97 and he was able to regularly able to command/adjust the breaking stuff.
In other words, an encouraging first start back.
— Katie Woo (@katiejwoo) September 5, 2022
Flaherty Returns For Stretch Run
This is promising for the Cardinals, not just for the remainder of this season, but for next season as well.
Though he hasn’t officially announced it yet, it’s very likely that Adam Wainwright, who has provided the Cardinals with some much-needed innings coverage over the last few years, will be retiring at season’s end.
A healthy Flaherty could help offset the loss of innings coverage in 2023.
But for now, this outing was a positive sign for both the Cards and Flaherty.
When he’s healthy, Flaherty can truly be one of the best pitchers in all of baseball.
He made that quite clear during his second half run in 2019 and with his hot start to 2021, before injuries derailed him.
A healthy Flaherty can only mean good things for St. Louis for the rest of this season.
He’s pitched some quality games in the postseason as well, so it’s not too much of a stretch to think that he could provide the Cards with some more this October.
We’ll see how he responds to a solid first start back.