No. 1: Jack Flaherty
It has been two-straight frustrating seasons for the St. Louis Cardinals’ No. 1 starter Jack Flaherty. After starting slow in a shortened 2020, injuries kept Flaherty under the 80.0 IP mark in 2021. Now, Flaherty had a flare-up (oops) in his shoulder and will start the season on the IL after getting a PRP shot.
There’s no other way to say it, the Cardinals need Jack Flaherty at the top of their rotation to be considered any sort of threat for the World Series this year. I love Jake Woodford and I love the Cardinals’ young arms, but if the team is relying on those guys for valuable innings, it’s going to be tough considering the rest of the rotation.
Looking at the Cardinals’ rotation, it is led by the 40-year-old Wainwright (who knows how long he’ll hold up), then there is Miles Mikolas who has combined for 44.2 IP in his last two seasons. Behind Mikolas we have Matz who we have already discussed has never reached 200 IP. Dakota Hudson is coming off of Tommy John surgery then will be followed by a minor-league depth pitcher.
Any and all of the team’s rotation are injury risks and Flaherty is leading them all right now as the only one not healthy.
Heading into his age-26 season, the only thing holding Flaherty back is his health and if 2022 is significantly impacted by the right-hander’s injuries, it’s fair to wonder how much the Cardinals can safely stake on him being around to help. If Flaherty can return and be consistent at the top of the team, everyone will be able to sleep easier. If the injuries continue, the Cardinals are going to have to find more pitching help fast.