'Positive news' for Flaherty; plans for closer

August 30th, 2021

CINCINNATI -- The Cardinals received good news Monday after getting a second opinion on the right shoulder of Jack Flaherty.

Their ace pitcher, who was 9-2 with a 3.08 ERA in 14 starts this season, suffered no structural damage and can recover with rest, rehab and a gradual resumption of throwing.

"The second opinion was basically echoed,” manager Mike Shildt said before Monday’s series opener with the Reds at Great American Ball Park. “He's going to be in a rest and recovery mode, and when he's able to throw, he'll start throwing and we'll take the progression from there.”

In his last start on Tuesday at Busch Stadium, Flaherty was tagged for four runs and four hits in just two innings. He went on the injured list the next day.

“Ultimately, [it's] positive news," Shildt said. "Nothing further found that's going to prevent him from any [further progress]. Nothing super serious. It's a matter of rest, getting it healthy and start playing catch again."

Flaherty has had bad luck in 2021, missing two and a half months with an oblique strain.

While there is no specific timetable for a return to the rotation or any guarantees he’ll return in 2021, Shildt suggested that once the right-hander feels comfortable, he can resume throwing.

"It's just [whenever] he gets to feeling back to where you can play catch again, and we'll go from there,” Shildt added. “I think it is day by day ... but I wouldn't put a timeline on it.

"I'm sure it's some combination. I'm sure there's some baselines they're going to follow to get back to and it's [also] definitely how he feels."

Flaherty is not with the team in Cincinnati but could rejoin the club this weekend in Milwaukee.

Sticking with Reyes
Sunday’s walk-off loss to the Pirates underscored the need for the Cardinals to find consistency at the back end of their bullpen, starting with Alex Reyes, who surrendered the painful walk-off three-run homer to Yoshi Tsutsugo.

Entering Monday, Reyes leads the National League with 51 games closed and the Cardinals with 29 saves in 33 chances. But three of his four blown saves have come in three of his last five appearances since Aug. 18.

“That's a big role,” Shildt said. “And so few people have done it. You can make an assumption who can do it. In Alex's case, the last couple of times out, that's part of it. A, you’ve got to get the last three outs; and B, he’s had to go through the heart the order. A situation came up the other day where you know, a day game, they had rested ... a couple of their better guys and they put them out there, which you knew they would in that situation. That's the job of the closer. So he faced the best and that's what happens.”

Shildt indicated that if a closing opportunity came up in Cincinnati, there’s always the chance he could mix things up, starting with Giovanny Gallegos, who has two saves but also seven blown saves in 2021.

“I think you’ll have to pay attention to the game,” Shildt said coyly. “We’ve got a couple guys that can do that. There are some guys that could possibly do it. So you find out that way, and you don't want to be finding out at this point in the year, but we will look at [it] based on ... matchups. You know, Gio is a guy that has been able to be good and regardless of circumstance, regardless or righty or lefty. So I think you can take your cue from there.”

Adam at 40
Shildt said the team greeted Adam Wainwright with a “Happy Birthday” on Monday, his 40th birthday. Wainwright is the third-oldest active player in the NL (fourth in MLB), while Yadier Molina, 39, is the fourth oldest; Rich Hill, 41, and former Cardinal Albert Pujols, 41, are older.