One of the last notable deals to go down on Trade Deadline day was the Orioles’ acquisition of Jack Flaherty. While there was chatter that the O’s were interested in Dylan Cease, Baltimore did get an arm to help the rotation as the Orioles move closer to October. Here’s a closer look at the 27-year-old.
A Look at Flaherty
Cardinals right-hander Jack Flaherty missed most of 2022 due to shoulder problems, just one year after the righty lost a good chunk of the season due to oblique and shoulder injuries. The 27-year-old stayed on the mound throughout the 2023 season up until this point, but the results have been uneven.
Flaherty’s BB% swelled up last season, and that’s remained the case in 2023. The right-hander walked 54 batters over 109.2 IP, tied for third-most in the Majors next to Charlie Morton. And among starters that’ve thrown at least 90 innings thus far, only Kodai Senga, Blake Snell, and Michael Kopech own higher BB/9 rates than Flaherty’s 4.45 BB/9.
Flaherty posted a respectable 3.94 ERA in the month of April, but ERA figures north of 5.00 in May and June. He then settled down to have a pretty solid July, as he owned a 3.03 ERA last month.
Walks are a problem for Flaherty, but there are a number of positives to be found in his numbers. For one, Flaherty’s fastball velocity has risen throughout the year. His mean fastball velocity of 93.1 MPH in July was his highest in a single month since September of 2022, and he’s opted to use his curveball more often as the season has gone on.
Hitters hit just .087 off the curve in July, and it had a 40.0% Whiff rate. It gets a fair amount of glove-side movement, which can make tough to pick up.
While Flaherty may not be the pitcher that was pumping 94-95 MPH fastballs with regularity like he was in 2019, the right-hander’s proved in July that he can operate without the velocity he had in the past.
What it Means for the Orioles
The Orioles needed rotation help, especially given the recent struggles of Tyler Wells. While Wells has been prone to missing in the zone the whole season — he gave up a league-high 21 home runs as of August 1 — the right-hander actually posted one of the better first halves among starters in the American League.
However, Wells faded in his first three starts of the second half. The 28-year-old gave up four home runs, nine walks, and eleven earned runs across three second half starts (nine IP). The Orioles proceeded to demote Wells to Bowie (AA).
Prior to the trade, Baltimore’s list of starting pitchers on the active roster included Grayson Rodriguez, Kyle Gibson, Kyle Bradish, Dean Kremer, and Cole Irvin. Bradish has been strong all season, while Rodriguez turned in an impressive start this past weekend against the Yankees. Irvin’s been a real question mark the whole season, and the O’s have received inconsistent results from Gibson and Kremer.
While Flaherty’s command has been questionable, the right-hander does have four career playoffs starts and the slight uptick in velocity and production does make the 27-year-old a cost-effective pickup.