2023 MLB Fantasy: Can Cardinals SP Jack Flaherty Be a Difference-Maker?

The previous two season for Cardinals RHP Jack Flaherty have been injury-riddled. Now healthy for 2023, how could Flaherty benefit fantasy owners? Let’s take a closer look the St. Louis starter.

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A Look at Flaherty

Cardinals starter Jack Flaherty hasn’t pitched much over the last two seasons — the 27-year-old’s thrown 114.1 IP between 2021-22. Flaherty went 9-2 when on the mound two years ago, but he didn’t have as much success in 2022.

Over 36 frames last year, Flaherty owned a 4.25 ERA, over a full point higher than his 2021 (3.22) figure. The righty walked 22 batters over 36.1 IP, almost as many as he did in 2021 (26) over 78.1 innings.

Injuries, however, have been a recurring theme for the 27-year-old starter. Flaherty was limited to just 78.1 IP in 2021 thanks to oblique and shoulder problems. Recurring shoulder issues killed most of his 2022 season.

The good news for Flaherty and the Cardinals is that he’s healthy right now. Set to join a rotation that will include Jordan Montgomery, Adam Wainwright, and Miles Mikolas, Flaherty can be a very important weapon for the Cards in 2023 thanks to his low-to-mid-90s heater that can speed up on hitters and a very good slider.

The right-hander hasn’t had a standout spring thus far, but he’s been showcasing a good feel for inducing ground balls and accumulating strikeouts. More importantly, though, he’s been able to make appearances on a regular basis.

2023 Fantasy Outlook

Outside of the top 200 in fantasy rankings by and large, Flaherty’s value will largely be tied to his command and health. The Cardinals right-hander let too many on base last year when on the mound, something that he’ll hope to avoid in 2023. However, none of that will matter if the righty can’t stay on the field.

On the other hand, Flaherty has real potential to be a difference-maker. The 27-year-old began to make use of a cutter in 2022, and he’s used it more frequently this spring. If the cut fastball can be worked into his rotation of pitches, it could be a nice weapon to go along with his fastball and slider if he plays it off the two well enough.

Flaherty posted two incredible seasons in 2018 and 2019. The California native struck out 182 over 151 innings in ’18, before a dominant 2019 season that saw Flaherty post a 2.75 ERA and 231 strikeouts. We’re not saying he’ll repeat those gaudy numbers if he can stay healthy. But, he’s shown a very good feel to set up hitters in the past and that can’t be ignored.

Given his rankings in Yahoo!/ESPN leagues, Flaherty is well worth a look given his past production and potential.

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