One of our regular offseason traditions is the Exit Interview, where we look back at each player that got into a game for the St. Louis Cardinals in the past season. This is the 11th season we’ve done this and it’s a good way to get a view of the whole year, not just a short stretch of games. It’s sort of like a performance review before the players went off to their offseason work, spending a little time with Oli Marmol and going over what went right, what went wrong. Stats and grades are only for a player’s time in St. Louis, though splits numbers may include other teams. As always, my sincere thanks to the legend of cardinalsgifs for providing the header image!
Player: Jack Flaherty
Season stats: 2-1, 4.25 ERA, 9 G, 8 GS, 36.0 IP, 36 H, 4 HR, 22 BB, 33 K, 4.97 FIP, 1.611 WHIP, 8.3 K/9, -0.1 bWAR, 0.0 fWAR
Statcast: .341 xwOBA, 5.6 barrel %, 87.2 exit velocity, 30.8 hard hit %, 19.8 K %, 13.2 BB %
Best Statcast category: Extension (91st percentile)
Worst Statcast category: Curve Spin (35th percentile)
Hero/Goat: Hero 1, Goat 2
Positives: His last start of the year was his best, giving up a run in six innings with six strikeouts against the Pirates….had a 3.86 ERA at home….also had a 3.86 ERA in the second half of the season….gave up only one run in five innings in his only loss….had a .652 OPS against when he had two or less runs of support….limited cleanup hitters to a .367 OPS….kept hitters to a .196 average when ahead in the count….batters hit just .163 with runners in scoring position….allowed a .418 OPS with two outs and RISP….brought his A game to high leverage spots, giving up a .171/.256/.288 line….got better as the game went on, surrendering a .531 OPS when he saw hitters for the third time….threw two scoreless innings at the Cubs.
Negatives: Kind of a lost season for Flaherty, who didn’t make his debut until June 15, then returned to the injured list on June 26, only returning after rosters expanded in September….only had two games where he pitched longer than five innings….gave up three or more runs in four of his eight starts….faced more lefties than righties and they had 100 more points of OPS against him….had a 6.23 ERA in games when he received six runs of support….leadoff batters had a 1.211 OPS against him and ninth place hitters put up a 1.365….batters hit .357 on his first pitch….when hitters were ahead they slashed .349/.582/.698….the first batter he faced went 3-7 with two walks and a home run….opponents leading off an inning were in the same vein with a 1.135 OPS….had a 6.75 ERA in the first inning….allowed a 1.122 OPS when there were no outs….had a 6.00 ERA against the Brewers.
Overview: It was a frustrating year for Flaherty and for those that were hoping that this season would be more in line with that amazing second half of 2019 or at least build on the good things from 2022. Instead, Flaherty reported to spring training hurt (something the club was unaware of given the communication blackout during the lockout) and never really got on track. The talent is still there and at times there were flashes of what he could be but the injuries and the lack of consistency limited what he could really do. To some degree, it’s the nature of a pitcher to deal with injuries–just look at the Mets and Jacob deGrom for instance–but when the staff was struggling, it would have been really nice to have Flaherty healthy and going well.
Outlook: Flaherty will head to arbitration (unless the Cards work a deal) and be playing 2023 as a free agent to be. There’s going to be a lot of motivation for him to have a strong year to show that he should get paid by someone. By the end of the year, he looked healthy enough and assuming nothing goes wrong in the offseason, he’s probably the number 2 starter in the rotation behind Miles Mikolas to start the year (depending on where they want to put Adam Wainwright in his final season). If all goes well, though, he’s probably starting Game 1 of the playoffs for the Cards next October.