Three St. Louis Cardinals who will improve this year and two who will regress

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Progression: Jack Flaherty

Injuries have ravaged Jack Flaherty’s career since his outstanding second half in 2019. Since 2020, Flaherty has only managed to pitch 154.2 innings and has an ERA of 3.90. But if he has shaken off the injury bug for good, Flaherty could prosper in 2023.

Much of this optimism comes from Flaherty’s underlying stats at the end of 2022. Flaherty experienced massive struggles in three starts in June before being shut down again, but in the six starts he made after returning from the injured list for the second time, he was able to show signs of progress. 

His fastball velocity jumped by about 2 mph, and while he had a poor showing against Pittsburgh on Sept. 10, where he walked four batters in five innings, Flaherty managed a FIP of 3.47 in his three starts after that. His strikeout percentage in these three games was nearly double that of his comeback attempt in June. He struck out 20 batters and walked eight in 17 innings during that stretch. The control wasn’t fully back, but that is normal for a pitcher returning from injury.

Although the gradual piling up of injuries could mean Flaherty never reaches the heights of 2019, where he looked to be a future Cy Young Award winner, a healthy season should allow Flaherty to get back in a rhythm and be an anchor for the rotation.