Jack Flaherty spent the first half of the 2019 season disappointing most Cardinals fans who expected a continuation of his breakout 2018 campaign. Flaherty, who posted a 4.64 ERA with a 26.4% strikeout rate and a 1.86 HR/9, had been quite disappointing up to that point for a ST. Louis squad that was relying on his ability to become their ace. The Cardinals were 44-44 at the time and two games back of the Cubs for the NL Central lead.
On July 16th, Flaherty took the mound against a Pirates team that would fall apart in the second half. Flaherty dominated, giving up just three hits and one run over seven innings of work while striking out eight. A line like this would soon become the norm for Flaherty, who has been absolutely on fire since the All-Star break. His efforts have helped propel the Cardinals to the top of the NL Central in the middle of a playoff race.
How did Flaherty turn it around? The biggest cause for success is his slider, which statistically has been one of the best pitches in baseball since the break. Additionally, Flaherty started locating his fastball better and got a nice little bump in velocity. Flaherty’s sharpened tools have allowed him to significantly increase his O-Swing % and decrease his Z-Contact %, meaning that he’s getting hitters to chase more out of the zone but also miss more in the zone. Read the rest of this entry »