Bleacher Report recently named Jack Flaherty over Harrison Bader as the St. Louis Cardinals top rookie who could make or break the team in their pursuit of the postseason.
Joel Reuter of Bleacher Report, in an article published on Thursday, identified a rookie on each MLB contender who could make or break their team in pursuit of the 2018 postseason. Reuter called Jack Flaherty the number one rookie on the St. Louis Cardinals roster who could make or break the Redbirds in their pursuit of the postseason.
Reuter justifies his reasoning by pointing out that Flaherty has gone 4-0 with a 1.22 ERA and a .84 WHIP in has last six starts prior to Saturday’s game at Detroit. The 22 year-old also held opposing batters to a .140 average and racked up 10.5 K/9 during those games.
Reuter recognizes that Harrison Bader’s 3.9 WAR leads all rookies, but doesn’t believe it makes him the most important rookie on the Cards roster. Is Reuter right? Many Cardinal fans would disagree. Let’s look at both players and the case that can be made for them as the ‘most important rookie’ on the Cardinal roster.
As the Bleacher Report piece points out, Bader has a remarkable 3.9 WAR, in large part due to his stellar defense. Comparing Bader to the last Cardinal center fielder, Tommy Pham, his defensive numbers are an upgrade. Pham’s centerfield RF/9 and RF/G are 2.35 and 2.25 respectively. Bader’s has a RF/9 of 2.87 and a RF/9 of 2.62 in centerfield.
His speed in centerfield is further measured by his chances vs errors. In 2018, Bader has only one error in 145 chances. Comparatively, Tommy Pham had 5 errors in 210 chances.
These numbers, however, don’t reflect the speed and energy Bader brings to the lineup everyday. The 24-year-old leads the Cardinals in stolen bases with 14 in 119 games, well ahead of the second place Kolten Wong who only has 6 stolen bases. Offensively, his OPS of .774 is fourth on the team, only trailing Carpenter, JMart, and Gyorko.
Looks like Rookie of the Year numbers doesn’t it? But let’s look at Bleacher Reports case for Jack Flaherty.
Joel Reuter makes a strong case for the right-handed starter Jack Flaherty. Reuter points out that with Carlos Martinez in the bullpen, Michael Wacha sidelined indefinitely with an oblique strain, and Miles Mikolas seemly regressing since the All Star break, the Cardinals needed someone to “boost the rotation.” Flaherty is that guy, according to Reuter, and now is the ace of the staff.
Rueter could also point out that Flaherty’s ERA of 2.92 is now best on the staff, even after Saturday’s disappointing outing. His 1.065 WHIP is lowest on the staff and he leads the rotation with 160 strikeouts. With Luke Weaver now in the bullpen, he only trails Mikolas in innings pitched with 132.
Additional stats to look at is Flaherty’s performance in the second half season vs his first half season. He has lowered his ERA(2.51 vs 3.24), BA(.165 vs .212), and WHIP(1.012 vs 1.107).
So which player is the number one rookie on the Cardinals roster? Is Jack Flaherty or Harrison Bader the rookie who could make or break Cardinals bid for the postseason?
Before Joel Reuter’s Bleacher Report article, I would have said Harrison Bader. But his piece makes me at least consider Jack Flaherty. Who else could be the staff ace at this point in the season?
Without an ace, the Cardinals are not going to get very far after September. An ace is the one pitcher who can eat up innings, keep the team in the game, and save the bullpen when needed. This is also the pitcher who can be a backstop to end a losing streak.
What the Cardinals need is a Chris Carpenter or Adam Wainwright. Carpenter has retired, and Wainwright isn’t that pitcher any more. Flaherty is the best candidate. If he can step forward and assume that role, the St. Louis Cardinals will have a chance to make a strong postseason run.
So, yes, Jack Flaherty is the most important rookie to make or break the St. Louis Cardinals run for the postseason.
What’s your opinion? Flaherty or Bader? Let us know, and as usual…Go Cards.