Following his team’s 2-0 win over the Mets on Saturday’s Grapefruit League opener, Cardinals skipper Mike Shildt officially named Jack Flaherty as his Opening Day starter, confirming what we have anticipated since the close of his studded 2019 campaign.
Last year, in his age-23 season and second as a full-time starter in the bigs, Flaherty led the St. Louis staff in nearly every statistical category. His 3.46 FIP, 231 strikeouts and 0.97 WHIP in 196 1⁄3 frames stamped him as the ace of the rotation and placed him fourth in the Cy Young Award voting — and rightfully so.
Flaherty’s .192 opponents’ batting average was the best in the National League and ranked third in the Majors, trailing Astros (well, one Astro-turned-Yankee) hurlers Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole. Flaherty also topped the the National League Central with his punchout total and innings count and blew everyone away with his 0.91 ERA in 15 starts after the All-Star break to power the Cardinals to their first division title since 2015.
2019 Statistics: 196 1⁄3 IP, 10.59 K/9, 2.52 BB/9, 1.15 HR/9, 2.75 ERA, 3.46 FIP, 4.7 WAR
2020 FanGraphs Depth Chart Projections: 190 IP, 10.97 K/9, 2.51 BB/9, 1.16 HR/9, 3.31 ERA, 3.42 FIP, 4.7 WAR
Flaherty is set to be at the forefront of a Cardinals rotation that will also feature Dakota Hudson, Adam Wainwright, and Miles Mikolas. Currently, that fifth spot is up for grabs this spring, with Carlos Martinez and Kwang Hyun Kim as the leading candidates for the job.
Video is credited to the KSDK News YouTube channel.