St Louis Cardinals ace Jack Flaherty was pulled from his start Monday with an injury. Days later, the news is not good.
The injury to starting pitcher Jack Flaherty seemed like it’d be serious from the moment it happened against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Those fears were confirmed and the St. Louis Cardinals will be without their star ace for a “significant” amount of time, manager Mike Shildt told reporters, including Katie Woo of The Athletic.
The exact timetable for Flaherty is unclear and will be determined when he receives a second opinion, but it’s a devastating blow for the Cardinals and for Flaherty’s chances of winning the National League Cy Young Award.
Flaherty, 25, was one of the best pitchers in the National League. He has a 2.90 ERA in 62 innings through 11 starts, with his 26.3 percent strikeout rate and 7.8 percent walk rate both above-average among starting pitchers this season. His four-seam fastball is averaging 93.9 mph and has been among his best pitches along with his sinker.
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Replacing Flaherty is going to be borderline impossible. He was the teams unquestioned ace and looked primed to breakout the remainder of the season. Now with Flaherty out, the Cardinals’ long-term outlook is murky, and finding replacement(s) for him in the rotation is now the No. 1 priority so they can stay near the top of the National League Central with the Chicago Cubs.
The Cardinals called up Johan Oviedo, who has shuttled between the majors and Triple-A for most of the regular season. He has a 5.40 ERA in 20 innings pitched. Daniel Ponce de Leon and Jake Woodford could see extended innings, perhaps even as an opener during games, with Alex Reyes and Genesis Cabrera primed to remain in the bullpen, as Jeff Jones of the Belleville-News Democrat said.
They will be asked to step up in Flaherty’s absence, but the Cardinals could even explore the trade market should those pitchers struggle. But without Flaherty, the Cardinals are a different team and they will need all facets of the team to step up so they remain in the hunt for when he eventually returns.