Is Jack Flaherty’s return coming too late for St. Louis Cardinals?
The St Louis Cardinals are about to get Jack Flaherty, their unquestioned ace, back from the Injured List. But will it be too late?
The St. Louis Cardinals have been a different team without Jack Flaherty. When he was healthy and headlining their rotation, they were a first place team. Without him, they’ve fallen to fourth place and have fallen over 12 games behind the Milwaukee Brewers in the National League Central.
Flaherty just completed another rehab outing and, by all accounts, will make his next start with the Cardinals. But will it be too late?
The Cardinals are on the cusp of falling out of the playoff picture, if they haven’t already, and their needs extend far beyond an ace. But there is no doubting that Flaherty will improve their chances — having their unquestioned ace stop the rotation once again should stabilize what has been a bumpy stretch for the starting staff.
And Flaherty, 25, appears to be ready to pick up where he left off. He looked great in his outing with Double-A Springfield, striking out three and throwing 50 of his 75 pitches for strikes, and fine-tuning the rest of his arsenal, throwing all of his pitches with regularity before he takes a major-league mound again.
When Flaherty does return, he will continue what has been the best start of his career. Before the oblique injury, he had a 2.90 ERA, 1.03 WHIP and 67/20 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 11 starts. It put him squarely on the NL Cy Young award radar and, with Flaherty under contract for only a couple more seasons, only increased the talk about what his eventual next contract will be, whether it be in St. Louis or elsewhere.
For now, however, the first step is getting Flaherty back on a major-league mound. It appears that is right on the doorstep, barring there being a setback in the next few days. But with the Cardinals in a free fall in the standings, will his return come too late?