Cardinals manager Mike Shildt makes definitive statement about Jack Flaherty

Based on his body of work over the last couple seasons, St. Louis Cardinals manager Mike Shildt has made a worthy declaration on Jack Flaherty.

From his first start of the 2020 season to his second outing, St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Jack Flaherty didn’t pitch at all for 25 days due to the team’s COVID-19 outbreak. Over nine regular season starts (40.1 innings), he had a dismal-looking 4.91 ERA.

But in the Cardinals’ final game of the season, a loss to the San Diego Padres, Flaherty pitched well (one run on six hits over six innings). And take out one rough outing, against the Milwaukee Brewers on Sept. 15, and he had a 3.14 ERA over his other eight regular season starts. In his first start back after the long layoff, he only pitched 1.2 innings (41 pitches) as the Cardinals exercises caution.

Cardinals manager Mike Shildt said Flaherty will start the team’s grapefruit league opener on Sunday, while practically declaring he’ll also start Opening Day against the Reds.

“We don’t take it lightly,” said Shildt. “There is competition in our starting rotation and that competition includes the No. 1 starter position. Jack has more than earned that opportunity.”

“Jack’s body of work allows us to rightfully award him the opportunity to be our No. 1 guy coming out of the gate.”

Jack Flaherty is the Cardinals ace

Flaherty went 11-8 with a 2.75 ERA and a 0.97 WHIP over 196.1 innings (33 starts) in 2019, on his way to finishing fourth in NL Cy Young voting. After the All-Star break, he was practically unhittable (0.91 ERA, 0.71 WHIP, 11.2 K/9 over 15 starts-99.1 innings) and it was easy to eye what his next step was. Over a shortened and then further interrupted season, save for one ugly outing that drove his ERA from 3.08 to 5.52, he showed what he could do.

Flaherty is the no-brainer choice to be the Cardinals’ No. 1 starter. But Shildt clearly has confidence in his young ace too.

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