What the Cardinals know about Jack Flaherty’s shoulder issue

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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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What the St. Louis Cardinals know about Jack Flaherty’s latest right shoulder issue: optimism it isn’t serious, but concern since it’s the same shoulder.

Jack Flaherty leaving another start early would have been the St. Louis Cardinals worst nightmare. And on Sunday, it became reality as he exited after two innings due to right shoulder stiffness.

It was Flaherty’s third start since coming off the Injured List with a right shoulder injury and once again, he did not look comfortable on the mound. He labored through two innings, throwing 49 pitches (29 for strikes), and was removed when he wasn’t able to “experience much feeling in his fingers,” Katie Woo of The Athletic reports, via manager Oli Marmol.

“He came in after that second inning, said nothing was hurting, had a dead arm, nothing was coming out the way he wanted it to,” Marmol said. “A little stiff, but nothing in the same spot we’ve been working on. We weren’t going to risk it.”

For Flaherty, the encouraging news is that he isn’t feeling any pain. But a setback is the last thing that the Cardinals, or Flaherty, needed after he returned off the IL. The team was hopeful that he could come in and quickly assert himself atop the rotation, giving them another frontline starter alongside Adam Wainwright.

But with Flaherty’s setback, that comes into question. Right now, the team is planning to have Flaherty undergo a series of tests on Monday to determine if there is more wrong in his shoulder than initial tests showed on Sunday. They are doing it out of an abundance of caution. They are quietly hopeful that this will be a short-term absence and he will be back on the mound without needing another IL stint.

Regardless, it’s a disappointing development for Flaherty, who had made it clear that he was in the best physical health/shape he had been in the last three years. And depending on the results of the latest MRI, could put the Cardinals rotation in a very precarious position when it thought it was just getting healthy.

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