How Jack Flaherty returning impacts St. Louis Cardinals

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Jack Flaherty #22 of the St. Louis Cardinals in action against the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park on May 1, 2021 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
Jack Flaherty #22 of the St. Louis Cardinals in action against the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park on May 1, 2021 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images) /
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Jack Flaherty returning impacts the St. Louis Cardinals in many ways, but it gives the front office increased flexibility at the trade deadline.

The St. Louis Cardinals have announced that right-hander Jack Flaherty is coming off the Injured List and will start on Wednesday against the Pittsburgh Pirates. And it couldn’t have come at a better time.

Flaherty, of course, is the Cardinals’ ace. He was their Opening Day starter in 2021 and when he was healthy, looked dominant as he posted a 3.22 ERA and 85/26 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 78.1 innings. With Flaherty back, their rotation is ⅘ of the way healthy, with only left-hander Steven Matz missing and he isn’t believed to be too far behind.

It means that the Cardinals are getting healthy at the right time. Entering Wednesday, they are in first place in the National League Central and two games ahead of the Milwaukee Brewers, who are without Freddy Peralta and Brandon Woodruff long-term and dealing with an underperforming offense.

Flaherty’s return gives the Cardinals a chance to separate themselves from the Brewers. It also lessens one of their needs at the upcoming trade deadline, though it’s possible that they still explore adding a depth piece. But the need for a top-of-the-rotation arm such as Frankie Montas would appear to lessen and the front office, led by president of baseball operations John Mozeliak, can focus their attention on addressing the bullpen.

It remains to be seen how effective Flaherty will be considering he hasn’t pitched in 2022, but he told manager Oli Marmol (via the St. Louis Post-Dispatch) that this is the best he has ever felt physically. He wants to be aggressive on the mound and increase his workload, as he  believes that can 1) keep him healthy and 2) maximize his effectiveness on the mound.

He’ll be able to put that to the test on Wednesday – and not only does it strengthen their rotation, it gives them all sorts of flexibility over the next six weeks as Mozeliak and the front office explore the trade market.

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