This upcoming season, Jack Flaherty is looking to change more than just the number on his back. Now sporting number 22, (his favorite number is nine, but that has been retired by the St. Louis Cardinals in honor of Enos Slaughter) Jack is looking to build upon his assessment of last year’s first full season in the big leagues.
“I don’t feel like I ended the season really well,” Flaherty said. “I felt like my September was tough but there was ups and downs and for me it’s trying to limit those down periods.”
Last season, Flaherty started 28 games (8-9) for the Cardinals and allowed 108 hits in 151.0 innings. He struck out 182 batters while walking 59.
The 23-year old right-hander started six games last September and allowed 17 runs in 28.2 innings for a 5.34 ERA. By comparison, Flaherty owned a 2.87 ERA for the 122.1 innings thrown earlier in the season.
“You go out, maybe you have a rough start, you don’t have something up to my own expectations, but maybe those adjustments the next time out and not having it carry on–maybe it carries on for another start and then you’ve got two in a row,” he continued. “Trying to make those adjustments from time to time. Especially, in game. Being able to adjust like that.”
Those kinds of adjustments have been among the topics he’s discussed with the likes of Yadier Molina, Adam Wainwright–and Bob Gibson.
“He said you’re going to get tired at some point,” Flaherty shared of his talks with the Hall of Famer. “That tiredness–you’re not going to get more tired, you’re going to reach a point of being tired and you just have to take whatever percentage you’re at and give 100 percent of that.”
Gibson summoned for Flaherty before a game last year and the two have remained in contact since. Luckily, the rookie had already done his homework.
“When I first came in the organization I really didn’t know a whole lot about him,” Flaherty admitted. “I felt like I knew a lot about baseball. But the more that you hear about oh Bob Gibson is coming around you start to want to look up and see what he’s done. So as it goes on and I’m getting to spring training my first year so I look up his stats, look up what he did and how good he was and you see – they changed the rules for him. Like he was that dominant. It’s like man that’s crazy. It’s something you don’t really understand how good he was. It’s come over time. Everything has come over time in developing that.”
An avid basketball fan, Flaherty is aware of Gibson’s history with the Harlem Globetrotters and other sports. But for now, their talks have mostly been about baseball.
“But I’m sure as it goes–he was an unbelievable athlete,” Flaherty said with a smile. “He was special. So I think at some point we might encompass everything but right now I’ve used it for all the baseball that I can.”
And while he may have the resource of one of the greatest pitchers to ever step on the mound and is being looked at to play a significant role for the Cardinals this season, Flaherty is not taking a spot in the rotation for granted.
“I don’t find it hard to stay motivated about many things,” he assured. “I’m always ready to get better. I’m always ready to work. I’m always ready to go out there every fifth day and throw. We’ve got a lot of guys. We’ve got a lot of really, really good guys. You look at a guy like Dakota last year he came out of the pen but he won PCL pitcher of the year as a starter for the whole year. We’ve got an unbelievable group of guys. Carlos.
“Miles was unbelievable last year. Wacha is going to be healthy. He was on his way to becoming an All-Star before he got hurt. Waino is back which is awesome. You can never go wrong with that guy. For myself, I’m always ready. I don’t have to work to stay motivated. Like, OK, I probably have a spot. That doesn’t slow anything down. If anything for me my expectations go up even more. I’ve got to be more consistent. I threw whatever 180 innings last year. Miles threw 200. I’m trying to get to that 200, 200-plus benchmark and make sure I’m in shape to do it, that my body is durable, that I know the routine I have to go through. So all of those things. My own expectations just grow for myself.”
22 now https://t.co/6vk40YLK7G
— Jack Flaherty (@Jack9Flaherty) February 11, 2019
photo credit: Jake Roth, Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports