As is tradition around these parts after the season is over, we’re taking a look at every player that got into a game for the St. Louis Cardinals this season. That’ll range from someone that didn’t record an out to someone that played almost every inning. Treat it like they are stopping by the manager’s office (umm, also imagine this was before the managerial change) on their way home for the winter for a performance review. Stats listed are ones generated during their time with the Cards and the grade is based not only on their performance but on the expectations for them going into the season. As he has the past few years, the legend that is cardinalsgifs has provided our excellent header image!
Player: Jack Flaherty
Season stats: 9-2, 3.22 ERA, 17 G, 78.1 IP, 57 H, 12 HR, 26 BB, 85 K, 4.22 FIP, 1.060 WHIP, 9.8 K/9, 0.6 bWAR, 0.9 fWAR
Statcast: .333 xwOBA, 9.3 barrel %, 89.8 exit velocity, 41.5 hard hit %, 26.4 K %, 8.1 BB %
Best Statcast category: K % (68th percentile)
Worst Statcast category: Chase Rate (10th percentile)
Hero/Goat: Hero 4, Goat 1
Positives: Was effective against both sides of the plate, limiting righties to a .204 BA and lefties to a .195 average….had a 2.57 ERA at home where batters put up a .589 OPS against him….had a solid first half, posting a 2.90 ERA and a .610 OPS against….was 4-0 in April and batters hit .190 against him then….in his nine wins, he posted a 1.47 ERA….didn’t allow a run in his two relief innings….got plenty of run support, as eight of his 17 games saw him backed by six runs or more….leadoff batters hit .086/.220/.114 against him….limited hitters to a .383 OPS when he got two strikes on them and a .405 when he was ahead in the count….the first batter of the game had a .364 OPS against him….batters hit .198 when he had two outs….allowed a .200 average with runners in scoring position….was at his best in high leverage situations, allowing just a .407 OPS in those situations….had a 1.88 ERA and a .467 OPS in the first inning….was best in the middle innings, fashioning a 2.91 ERA in innings 4-6….put up a .549 OPS the first time through an order…was strong deeper in games, giving up a .186/.269/.314 line on pitches 51 to 75….after struggling with the Brewers earlier in his career, had a 1.38 ERA in three games (two starts) against them.
Negatives: Injuries took most of the season from him as he missed from the beginning of June to the middle of August, then had a shorter IL stint in September….started the season off with a stumble, allowing six runs in less than five innings to the Reds on Opening Day….also allowed seven run (though only three earned) against the White Sox in May….had a 4.41 ERA in the second half, though in limited innings….allowed a 1.117 OPS in September, but he only threw 2.1 innings….third place hitters clipped him for a .306 average and a .915 OPS….eight of the home runs he allowed came when the batter was ahead in the count….only pitched in two games against the Cubs (no starts) and allowed a single and a homer in six plate appearances.
Overview: I mean, it was pretty much a Jack Flaherty year if you give allowances for the injuries and the fact the club used him as a reliever, kinda, in the final couple of weeks. Before he was hurt against the Dodgers, it looked like he might make that step into a higher tier of major league pitcher, not quite an dominant and consistent ace yet but getting closer. It also put to rest a lot of fears that 2020 was anything more than a product of the circumstances in the plague year. Then came the oblique injury and it left a lot of questions. Flaherty came back and was great, good, and not good in three starts, with the final one putting him back on the injured list. All in all, that’s two seasons in a row that Flaherty might like to have back.
Outlook: Assuming health, and there’s no reason to think that he won’t be healthy, Flaherty will try to take that final step and be listed in the top pitchers in baseball instead of perhaps right below them. 2022 is also the last year of his arbitration coverage, assuming the new CBA doesn’t change things, and he’ll be very motivated to make a statement. Having a healthy Flaherty at the top of the rotation should do a lot for the Cardinals’ press for a division title next season.