As they prepared to head off for the off-season, St. Louis Cardinals Manager Mike Matheny provided rookie pitchers Jack Flaherty and Luke Weaver with a little parting advice.
“You need to do whatever you need to this winter with the idea of pitching til November,” said Matheny. “It’s not just the one extra month, you’ve got to prepare to have two. Know in your mind that while you put in the extra reps, that’s what you’re trying to build up for. Both of them are on a real nice program. Watching Jack, he journals every outing. He journals his workouts–he’s conscientious, he’s smart, and he’s talented. And Luke’s right there with him.”
“Knowing how I feel right now and knowing what I need to do to kind of build off this year and then carry it into the months of September and then hopefully October,” agreed Flaherty. “It’s going to be a big off-season. There’s a lot, a lot to take away from this season and a lot to build off of.”
After pitching 134 innings last season, Flaherty bumped to 170 IP this year as he began the season with Springfield (AA) and then moved to Memphis (AAA) before making his MLB debut with the Cardinals and finished out the season.
Some back tightness kept Weaver out of some early action with Memphis, but he threw 77.2 innings before adding another 60.1 with the Cardinals. That was 18.2 more than in 2016.
“Last year was different in a way,” said Weaver. “You get beat up a little bit and you’ve got to bounce back and take those negatives and turn it around. This year was the opposite–I had a good little stretch and a lot of positives come out of it. Knowing what it takes and the ways to prepare myself before, during, and after games, etc. This final stretch doesn’t, in my head, can’t define how the season went. Just gotta take those little adjustments, take them in the off-season positively and come back, me knowing that I can pitch here.”
Flaherty made five starts for St. Louis and appeared in another game, striking out 20 batters and finishing with a 6.33 ERA. Weaver appeared in 13 games and made 10 starts. He finished with a 7-2 record with 72 strikeouts and a 3.88 ERA.
“Part of it, you have to experience first-hand and see what it’s like to push for that extra month,” added Matheny. “That’s something that sometimes can push you to another level for how you prepare.”
“Constant care of your body,” noted Flaherty. “Making sure you get the rest, you’re eating right, get enough sleep. It’s the easy things, do the simple things right.”
“Just a big learning experience. Throwing and talking to all these guys, watching them. Watching the way that they worked–I tried to take something from them every single day.”
With so much to take in, Flaherty shared he had not even had time to think about what his role could be heading into next year. But he was clear on another lesson he takes away from his first taste of the big leagues.
“Just pitch my game and control counts,” he said. “The more you control counts, the better spot you’re going to be in.”
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