The St. Louis Cardinals’ pitching staff has a lot of question marks. A lot of this has to deal with a lack of offseason signings and trading for pitching, but a lot of it has to deal with injuries. Jack Flaherty has not pitched an inning this season for the Cardinals, but he a crucial piece of the organization and deserves an extension as soon as humanly possible.
Age is just a number, but it is a number that is very high for the Cardinals. Flaherty is 26 years old and his spot at the top of the rotation deserves to be there for as long as he wants. Now is not the time to be stingy with your money John Mozeliak.
Flaherty avoided arbitration this season and is being paid $5 million. St. Louis needs to push their focus on keeping him long-term.
Why Flaherty Needs to be Extended
When Flaherty is on the mound you expect to leave the game happy with a win. He has not had a losing record since his second year in the league where he went 8-9. Last year he went 9-2 with a 3.22 ERA, and in 2019 he had a 2.75 ERA with a league-leading 0.968 WHIP and 6.2 H9.
The Cardinals win when Flaherty is on the mound. In three of his five seasons, opponents have a batting average under .200 against him.
It is completely understandable that people think the Cardinals should wait until after the 2022 season to talk an extension with Flaherty–and that is what will likely happen–but why not lock him up this year?
Once Flaherty returns this season, and performs like he is known for, the Cardinals need to work out a deal with him before his value skyrockets again.
You cannot talk about Flaherty without addressing his remarkable 2019 second half. He posted a 0.91 ERA in the second half of the season. Granted, it is not 2019 anymore, and that may be where he peaked, but imagine letting him go and seeing him put up these numbers elsewhere.
The Road to Recovery
After a long battle with injuries, Flaherty is slowly making his way back to the rubber. Thursday, May 26, Flaherty threw 25 pitches facing live hitters. He should be due to spend some time in the minors soon, and then the depth-less Cardinals rotation will soon welcome him back with open arms.
With Stephen Matz and Jordan Hicks both on the IL, the backend of the rotation is in shambles. Head coach Oliver Marmol has a lot on his plate with this rotation as the team chases the Milwaukee Brewers for first place in the NL Central.
2023 Cardinals Rotation
It is hard to predict what the rotation will look like a year from now, but Flaherty will be at the forefront. He is not eligible to leave until after the 2023 season, so barring another injury or a shocking trade, he should be the opening day starter.
The rest of the rotation will look a lot different, especially with the likely retirement of Cardinals legend Adam Wainwright. Hopefully, a healthy Alex Reyes will be in the rotation as well. Miles Mikolas is pitching very well and basically has his spot in the rotation locked for next year.
The youth is taking over, and rookie Matthew Liberatore should be a backend starter, leaving one more spot in the rotation. Jordan Hicks belongs in the bullpen and should not take the fifth spot. Steven Matz coming off his four-year contract in the offseason makes sense for a spot in the rotation, but so does Dakota Hudson.
St. Louis’ rotation will be a lot younger next year, but will likely feature a lot of familiar names. It is hard to expect a big signing or trade for another starter, but you never know with this organization.