Wednesday night is for all the marbles as the St. Louis Cardinals will travel to LA LA Land to face the defending World Series Champion Los Angeles Dodgers in a one-game National League Wild Card matchup.
With line-ups already set for this star-studded marquee, where does the Cardinals’ vigorous five-quadrant pitcher Jack Flaherty fit in after returning from a right shoulder strain?
Manager Mike Shildt indicated that Flaherty would be on the NL Wild Card roster.
He told MLB.com that the right-hander would benefit from the one-game scenario due to the limitations of his current workload due to a plethora of injuries which consisted of a left oblique tear earlier this season and the strained shoulder mentioned above.
Before making his initial return, fans and pundits around the situation wanted Flaherty to sit out for the remainder of the year. But hope crept in after seeing a glimpse of the ace warming up in the bullpen in the bottom of the 10th inning vs. the Chicago Cubs last week.
The uproar was a prelude as the 25-year-old was the sigh of relief in the sixth inning on the season’s final game as he showed he could pitch in back-to-back days. Flaherty threw 18 pitches during the outing in which 12 were strikes with two punchouts in one inning of service.
— Bally Sports Midwest (@BallySportsMW) September 30, 2021
That nonchalant performance a day later was only Flaherty’s second stint out of the bullpen in his young career.
He proved to himself and the organization that he is willing to take on a more efficient workload as he and the red birds are in the hunt for Red October.
— Brandon L. Carr (@Carrpediem21) October 5, 2021
Shildt told the press that the Cardinals are reminiscent of a tightrope walker as they are currently a balancing act.
He said, “We are going to give him the opportunity to go out and compete, but we also recognize that we are about to head into the postseason, and it is time to put the guys out there that can help us the most and Jack is clearly a guy that can help us, but we’ve got to make sure we are carrying a group that does not have limitations in that setting.”
All reports indicate that Flaherty, if called upon, would be the first one ready to rock out of the bullpen during Wednesday’s win-or-go-home scenario in his first taste of playoff pressure.
The mere mind twist of having an actual ace up their sleeve equipped with an array of weaponry in his repertoire would strike fear in any opponent.
Black Jack has an upper 90s fastball and many off-speed knee bucklers, amongst other dominating features, to impose his will.
Speaking of going home, the matchup with the Dodgers will be a homecoming for the California native.
Imagine it’s a close ball game, and the starter is struggling to make it to the finish line.
Sealed away is Flaherty, who embraces the Mamba mentality and puts on a performance masterpiece worthy of Flaherty’s childhood idol, the late great Kobe Bean Bryant, with the game on the line. In a perfect world with family & friends surveying the situation, he dominates. He will surely have to get past MLBbro Mookie Betts in a tight situation or two.
That would be the stuff of legend. Or at least something to talk about over Thanksgiving dinner.
Jack Flaherty, back home in LA, is rocking purple and gold Kobe Bryant-inspired cleats with "RIP Mamba" written on the side pic.twitter.com/C048TwCdme
— Zachary Silver (@zachsilver) June 1, 2021
First pitch is scheduled for 8:10 p.m. on TBS.