Jack Flaherty is he an ACE? Or is he THE ACE

Photo by AP/Mark J Terrill

I was following a thread a few days ago on Facebook. The comment was made that Flaherty was pitching like an ACE. Which prompted another comment that said 8-7 is an ACE? So I wanted to take a closer look.

First what is an ACE? I think we can all agree just judging an ACE on wins alone is not very reliable. I mean who would be better an 18 win pitcher with a 2.35 ERA or and 18 win pitcher with a 4.75 ERA? Again not so simple.

Lets look at stats for the last two years and see what they say.

Years starts W - L IP ERA WHIP SO/BB OPP BA OPP OBP QS Run Support

2018 28 8 - 9 151 3.34 1.106 3.08 .199 .290 10 4.03

2019 28 9 - 7 160.1 3.14 1.042 3.88 .203 ,269 15 4.37 As of 9/5

He has improved in almost every facet of his game over last year. His improvement was one factor in the decision to let Luke Weaver go. In his last 12 games (from July 2 to Sept 3) His numbers are:

5 - 1, 1.32 ERA, 0.81 WHIP, 11.04 SO/9, .229 OBA 6 1/3 IP/G

By every analytic this year and last year with the exception of wins he has been a dominant force in the Cardinal rotation. Is he a "True ACE" such as a say Justin Verlander? Hardly, Verlander has posted at least 200+ IP in 13 of his 15 seasons in ten of those seasons he has posted 200+ SOs. So NO Flaherty is not on that level YET! I mean he is only 23(He will be 24 on Oct 15). With 22 games left it is conceivable he could get 4 or 5 more starts. So he could reach 190 IP this year with outside shot at 200(5 games at 8+ IP) I would say a conservative estimate would be between 184-188. It is almost certain he will top the 200 SO plateau he currently stands at 186.

He has given up 23 Home Runs this year, however 9 of those were in June and 7 in April. He has only given up 5 Home Runs since June 25th covering 12 games.

In 5 of his last 7 games he has not given up a single run. In those 5 games he threw 35 Innings! Is is setting a very substantial base for future success.

Flaherty is the Team Leader in ERA 3.14, FIP 3.77, WHIP 1.042, SO 186, IP 160.1(tied with Mikolas). He has also given up the least amount of hits 119. Which results in a 6.9 H/9 ratio.

The next best in ERA is Hudson at 3.40. Hudson also is second in IP 153. As far as WHIP Mikolas is second with 1.210 Mikolas is also second best in FIP 4.17. The only category that Flaherty lacks in is wins. So while not winning a lot by every other aspect Flaherty is the TEAM ACE this year! Let's compare Jack Flaherty to other Cardinal ACEs I will use There first two full years in baseball and stats will be GS, IP, ERA, FIP, WHIP, IP/G, SO/9 OBA.


Jack Flaherty 56 311.1 3.24 3.81 1.073 5 2/3 10.6 .201

Chris Carpenter 57 325 4.38 4.09 1.425 6 2/3 6.7 .279

Matt Morris 50 330 2.97 3.62 1.270 6 2/3 6.2 .253

Joaquin Andujar 54* 331 3.64 3.96 1.363 6 1/3 3.5 .253

Adam Wainwright 52 334 3.50 3.85 1.311 6 1/3 6.1 .260

Bob Tewksbury 58@ 336.1 3.34 3.41 1.219 5 2/3 3.3 .275

John Tudor 66^ 437 3.89 4.04 1.350 6 2/3 3.3 .266

Steve Carlton 64* 425 2.99 2.45 1.200 6 2/3 7.0 .242

Bob Forsch 67# 424 3.35 3.73 1.328 6 1/3 3.9 .260

Bob Gibson 67& 445 3.03 3.28 1.290 6 2/3 7.6 .221

*4 games in relief, ^ 2 games in relief, #1 game in relief, @ 8 games in relief, & 10 games in relief.

Now obviously in the case of Tudor, Carlton, Forsch and Gibson and even Andujar, pitching was approached a little different in terms of IP. The only pitchers with a better ERA than Jack in their first two years Are Gibson, Carlton and Morris. Among thos I listed he has the BEST WHIP, SO/9 and OBA. Some may not want to apply the ACE label to him just yet and that is fair. However take this comment from Adam Wainwright (paraphrasing) "Every time he(Flaherty) takes the mound you believe you are going to see something special." To me that is the 1st mark of an ACE when a team has that type of confidence in a pitcher. 2nd when you have that pitcher go out and perform at a high level to back up that confidence. Maybe even feed off that confidence to bolster his own.

For me Yes Jack Flaherty is an ACE despite the lack of wins. What I can see is having a pitcher like Flaherty to put on the mound in game 1 of ANY playoff scenario gives ST Louis a big advantage.

Thanks for reading let me know what you think.

Comment here or on twitter @bortas2002

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