Jack Flaherty has been sick, unstoppable this season. There’s no doubt that he’s a frontrunner for the National League Cy Young award.
Now if you watched the St. Louis Cardinals’ ace’s first outing of the 2021 season, things didn’t go his way at all. It was not the start that he envisioned.
Against the Cincinnati Reds, he threw 4.1 innings, giving up six hits, six earned runs, and two home runs. While his start was not his best, Flaherty did not take the loss, instead of taking the no-decision as the Cardinals won 11-6.
After that start, Flaherty would lock in and establish himself as the dominant pitcher the Cardinals know him as.
Taking the ball every fifth day isn’t easy. In a pitcher’s best season, he isn’t going to be at the top of his game every start. Flaherty didn’t have his best stuff on Wednesday night and suffered his first loss of the season. He gave up three runs in his first 3.2 innings which wasn’t enough ace work to offset the red hot Chicago White Sox, who won 8-3.
Flaherty had not lost a game this season up to that point, posting a 2.53 ERA.
Going into the game, the 8-0 Flaherty had the chance to become one of four pitchers in Cardinals history to start a season 9-0.
The three other pitchers who accomplished this were John Gant (2010), Howie Krist (1941), and Frank Dipino (1989).
Gant and Krist started their seasons 10-0 before losing a game and Dipino started 9-0.
There was a lot at stake for Flaherty on Wednesday night and maybe the emotions of the situation overwhelmed a guy who was smooth as whip cream in previous starts.
High School Reunion
The game against the White Sox was also a special one for Flaherty because he faced off against his former high school teammate Lucas Giolito, who was lights out allowing just 1 run in six-beats mode innings of work.
Here you have two former teammates going at each other on the mound in an MLB game. That’s something you don’t see often.
And check this out. Atlanta Braves starter Max Fried was on that high school team, too. So you know that pitching rotation was a nightmare for hitters in high school.
Harvard-Westlake High School in California had three future MLB starters on the same team. Is there, even more, to say about that?
Flaherty talked about the opportunity to face his old high school teammate in an article from MLB.com.
From Harvard-Westlake to MLB! pic.twitter.com/LG2JSrQyQg
— St. Louis Cardinals (@Cardinals) May 24, 2021
“Definitely one day, [we’ve discussed] all being in [the league], all three of us,” Flaherty said. “In terms of matching up, I don’t know if that was ever [discussed]. I think it’s more of a conversation of Max vs. Lucas, and hopefully, that happens at some point. But it’s going to be fun.”
Flaherty did not know he would square off against his high school teammate until Giolito sent him a text, but he knew there was a possibility it could happen.
“It was right after my game, my last one, he shot me a text saying, ‘Are you going Tuesday?’” Giolito said. “And I was like, ‘Yup, that’s when I’m slated for.’ And then I kind of looked at his schedule, like, ‘Oh, OK! Cool.’ So it was like five days ago.”
While it was a joyous high school reunion on the mound, Flaherty still had a job to do and he fell short for the first time this season. Our MLB bro is still on pace to have a 20-win season.
Flaherty certainly has the ability to accomplish that. His winningest season was back in 2019 when he won 11. “Jack The Pitcher” will definitely pass that number this season.
Whenever you see Flaherty’s name as the starting pitcher for a game, make sure you tune in because it will be a treat.