Saturday, July 2, 2022

Cardinals’ Jack Flaherty to make season debut Wednesday vs. Pirates after returning from shoulder injury

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USATSI

Starting pitcher Jack Flaherty will get the ball for the Cardinals on Wednesday for the first time in 2022, the club announced Tuesday. Flaherty hasn’t pitched in the majors since Oct. 3 of last year, as he suffered a shoulder injury and was shut down before spring training. Those shoulder issues were a carry over from 2021. 

Flaherty threw 30 pitches in a Double-A rehab start on June 5 and then 59 pitches with Triple-A Memphis on June 10. Usually starters ramp things up a little more on rehab assignments before returning to the big-league clubs, but the Cardinals and Flaherty wanted him up now. 

“We’ve had some really good conversations on what he felt was important,” Cardinals manager Oliver Marmol said (Bally Sports Midwest). “Everybody kind of weighed in and at the end of the day he was very adamant about increasing the intensity and not just the workload. He wanted to be able to replicate that here and not in Memphis, so he’ll be our starter tomorrow.”

When Flaherty is right, he is capable of being an ace. He posted a 3.34 ERA in 28 starts in 2018, finishing fifth in Rookie of the Year voting. In 2019, he was 11-8 with a 2.75 ERA (152 ERA+), an NL-best 0.97 WHIP and 231 strikeouts against 53 unintentional walks in 196 1/3 innings. He finished fourth in Cy Young voting. 

Injuries held Flaherty to 78 1/3 innings last season, but he showed flashes of his top-shelf upside, posting a 3.22 ERA and 1.06 WHIP while striking out 85. 

The Cardinals add Flaherty — who will face the Pirates on Wednesday — to Adam Wainwright, Dakota Hudson, Miles Mikolas and Matthew Liberatore in their current rotation as they wait for Steven Matz’s return from the injured list. As the St. Louis rotation gets healthier, the Brewers have pretty big concerns in theirs. The Cardinals entered Tuesday with a one-game lead in the NL Central. The Brewers led by as many as 4 1/2 games late last month. 

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