The St. Louis Cardinals need Jack Flaherty back big time and while he isn’t close to returning, he has resumed playing catch.
The St. Louis Cardinals’ rotation was struggling. Then Jack Flaherty hurt his oblique and it went to shambles, seemingly being held together by Adam Wainwright and the return of Kwang Hyun Kim.
Flaherty is out until early August at the soonest and there is fear that absence could extend even deeper into the season. The Cardinals are being careful not to publicly comment on the timeline, considering how tricky obliques can be, though there are some signs of progress in his recovery.
Flaherty has resumed “some very light catch,” manager Mike Shildt told reporters, including Zachary Silver of MLB.com. Shildt once again deflected comment on a timeline, but noted Flaherty is a long way off from returning to a rotation that desperately needs their ace.
But the Cardinals need to take it slow with Flaherty. They expect him to return this season, but if they rush him back, could lose him for the remainder of the year if he suffers a setback. If that happens, it may be a blow too devastating for the team to overcome.
The good news, however, is that the Cardinals appear intent on letting Flaherty return to 100 percent before having him return. Their latest 13 loss in 18 game stretch has not impacted their thinking and they have explored external options via trade and free agency to get through this grueling stretch.
It’s why they signed Wade LeBlanc, who has contributed meaningful innings in two appearances since signing with the Cardinals. It’s why they are in talks with Shelby Miller and why they have had preliminary conversations with teams on the trade market.
The asking prices are too high right now for the Cardinals to make a deal. But they will make a trade or two. And the organization hopes that those moves, combined with Flaherty’s eventual return, will be enough for them to overcome what has been their toughest stretch of the season.