Jack Flaherty's first Spring Training start was very encouraging
The St. Louis Cardinals and Houston Astros faced off this afternoon at Roger Dean Stadium but with a different feeling in the air, with the Cardinals dominating the day to the tune of a 7-1 victory. The Cardinals lineup is missing many regular starters due to the World Baseball Classic beginning tomorrow night. One major highlight from today’s game was the spring training debut of Jack Flaherty. Let's talk about his performance.
Flaherty was originally planned to make his debut on Sunday afternoon but was scratched due to lower half tightness. Instead they gave the nod to Jordan Montgomery which gave Flaherty the start vs a deep Astros lineup to work through. This lineup included players like Jose Altuve and Jeremy Pena. How did Flaherty handle his task?
He walked Altuve in an AB that looked like he could not control the fastball. The pitch kept rising up and into right-handed batters with an average velocity sitting around 93 MPH. Jack bounced back by getting Jeremy Pena to ground out into a double play. He retired the side by striking out Martin Maldonaldo looking and worked his way into the 2nd inning.
The start of the 2nd inning was not ideal, giving up a solo home run to the Astros cleanup hitter David Hensley. After the HR allowed, Flaherty really locked it in and struck out 2 batters looking to end the second. His command looked much sharper and he had a feel for his pitches. Jack carried this command into the third inning and moved through the Astros' bottom third of the order with a finish of Altuve on this dot of a pitch at 95 MPH. His afternoon ended with a stat line of 3.0 IP, 1 H, 1 ER, 5 K, and a 3.00 ERA.
It is still very early into the new season, but seeing the potential frontline ace of the Cardinals showing this confidence in his first start is very promising. Let's hope he can keep this level of command going into the rest of Spring Training. If so, the Redbirds have their number one for the opening series of the regular season.