St. Louis Cardinals: Look ahead to 2018- Jack Flaherty edition

ST. LOUIS, MO - OCTOBER 1: Jack Flaherty
ST. LOUIS, MO - OCTOBER 1: Jack Flaherty /

In continuing the “Look Ahead” pieces about the St. Louis Cardinals there has to be a focus on the young pitching this team has to work with.

The St. Louis Cardinals have youth, which we know. What we don’t know is how exactly they will use all of that youth for next year. In continuing the Look Ahead to 2018 series we will take a look at another young pitcher who fans should be excited about. That pitcher is Jack Flaherty.

2017 was like a rocket for Jack Flaherty. Starting his year in AA and ending the year in the Majors may not have been the expectation going in but Flaherty forced the Cardinals hand with his dominance in the minors.

A 1.42 ERA in AA and a 2.74 ERA in AAA had fans foaming at the mouth for Flaherty to make an appearance in St. Louis. They got their wish, unfortunately though, it didn’t go exactly how everyone would have hoped.

Making the adjustment to the majors is clearly a tough one. This season it got the best of Flaherty, but that doesn’t mean there needs to be concern for him going forward. In his five starts for the St. Louis Cardinals, his best was a 5 IP, 1 ER, 4 K and 4 BB outing. This came against the San Diego Padres, not exactly world beaters, but still Major League competition.

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It is safe to say the Cardinals didn’t really expect to have, let alone need Flaherty in St. Louis last season. The Cardinals are about developing players at their pace, this time though Flaherty was too dominant to keep in Memphis. With a longer season than was originally intended for him it isn’t outlandish to think the extra innings had a part in him struggling to make a real impact for the big league club.

Flaherty hit a career-high in innings this season by 36 innings. It happens every year in baseball. Young pitchers hitting new highs in innings start to wear down because of the increased stress on their arms and bodies in general. Flaherty is only 21 years old. He has a long career ahead of him and will continue to hit new highs in innings as his arm becomes stronger.

The future is very bright for Flaherty. Unfortunately for him, it seems unlikely he will start the season in the majors. Flaherty was with the Cardinals mostly out of necessity. The Cardinals likely intend for Flaherty to start the year in AAA and continue to develop.

It would be no surprise if he was the first man up if there is any sort of issue with the pitching staff though.

Something to consider when it comes to Flaherty is the potential for him to be on the move. The Cardinals have made it known they plan to make some changes to the team. Trade options have been mentioned over and over. Considering the lack of impressive free agents this year. The only way to acquire great players is to lose young ones.

Next: Under-the-radar closers

Will Flaherty find himself on another team? Or would the front office deem him untouchable? That is not a question that fans will really have any insight in, but it is something to monitor.