Jack Flaherty's five no-hit innings was a great performance, but there are still reasons to be concerned
The St. Louis Cardinals gave the ball to Jack Flaherty for Game 2 of the season, hoping it would be the beginning of a much-needed rebound season. All things considered, he got off to a good start for St. Louis despite some concerning things.
Flaherty ended the day going five innings, allowing zero runs and zero hits while walking seven batters, hitting one, and striking out four. On the day, he threw 45% fastballs, averaging 91 MPH, and 39% sliders, which he seemed more comfortable going to as the game went on.
Flaherty started the game with two quick outs but loaded the bases on three straight walks before striking out Brandon Belt to end the first inning. He continued to get into trouble during the second and third innings, but slowed the game down in the fourth and got a 1-2-3 inning to finish his day in the fifth.
Let's start with the good. I mean, how can you fault a guy for five no-hit innings? It was frustrating that the ball was not in the zone as much as you'd hope, but when he did produce contact, the Blue Jays couldn't do much with it.
Even without his best stuff, Flaherty generated eight swings and misses, more than Gausman during the first five innings, who is one of the best starters in today's game. This is also one of the best lineups in baseball, so navigating eight base runners without giving up a run is pretty impressive.
With how bad things seemed to be going to start the game, the fight Flaherty showed to power through five innings and now give up is something you need from a guy who wants to be an ace. The best pitchers can power through starts, even when their stuff isn't there. Flaherty did that today.
Obviously, seven walks and hitting a batter is not how you want your day to go, and his command issues throughout the game were worrisome. Flaherty is going to need to clean up his control over the next few starts if he is going to continue to find success this season.
His velocity is something to monitor as well. In the first inning, Flaherty hit 94 MPH on the radar gun multiple times but ended up sitting around 90 MPH most of the game. He may just be building back up or was possibly taking some off of his pitches to get his command back. There is also a possibility that this is who Flaherty is now after a few years of dealing with injuries.
So what do we think?
Overall, I am very impressed with how Flaherty fought through his start today. No matter how the outing went, he was going to have to string together multiple starts this season to prove whether or not he was back to his old ways or not.
He has some things to work on, but overall, I like what we saw from Flaherty today. The concerns are real, but let's see how his next few starts go.