While his return is not imminent, St. Louis Cardinals right-hander Jack Flaherty is continuing to progress in his return from an oblique injury.
The significant oblique injury to right-hander Jack Flaherty was devastating blow to the St. Louis Cardinals. It’s an injury that the team has not recovered from, with the rotation around him crumbling, and the result has been a free fall in the standings, where they now sit 8.5 games behind the Milwaukee Brewers in the National League Central.
The optimistic view from team officials has been that Flaherty would return somewhere around early August, with it being a loose timeline just because of how unpredictable oblique injuries can be. But Flaherty is continuing to progress, as he flew to San Francisco on Monday to be with the Cardinals and threw off the mound for the first time since tearing his oblique May 31, according to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, who adds that Flaherty threw 15 pitches at “light intensity.”
“I feel really good,” Flaherty said. “It’s a matter of time right now. Still letting things heal. But I can get out and long toss and build up and keep the arm strength there. … That’s going to be helpful in coming back sooner, as opposed to not being able to throw and keep sharp.”
Flaherty returning sooner than later would change a LOT for the Cardinals. One, it would give them their bonafide ace back atop the rotation. But it would also lessen their need for a starting pitcher at the deadline. They will still need to acquire one, possibly two starting pitchers, of course, but none of the caliber of Flaherty — something that would surely cost them a couple of their top prospects, something that president of baseball operations John Mozeliak has continually said that he is unwilling to do.
Flaherty, however, is not eligible to return off the IL until August 1, and there is an increasing buzz that he will not be ready to return by then. That does not mean he suffered a setback. Let me make that clear. The most realistic scenario has always been that he would return in mid-to-late August and, barring a setback, he remains on track to return by then.
For now, Flaherty will continue to be with the team in San Francisco and return to St. Louis to resume his rehab. But he appears to be inching closer toward returning to the rotation — something that surely cannot come soon enough for the Cardinals.