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St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Jack Flaherty (shoulder) to make season debut

Oct 3, 2021; St. Louis, Missouri, USA;  St. Louis Cardinals relief pitcher Jack Flaherty (22) pitches during the sixth inning against the Chicago Cubs at Busch Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

St. Louis Cardinals ace Jack Flaherty will make his season debut against the Pittsburgh Pirates on Wednesday due to the progress he’s making from right shoulder soreness.

Flaherty was slated to make a rehab start at Triple-A Memphis on Wednesday but the Cardinals reversed course after the right-hander insisted he would get more out of a major league start than a third minor league rehab appearance.

“Rehab is a hard thing, and trying to match how you are feeling versus workload, buildup and pitch count and the mental work that goes into it, for me (pitching against the Pirates) was the better option,” Flaherty said before Tuesday’s doubleheader against Pittsburgh.

Flaherty will throw approximately 60 pitches before exiting.

The 26-year-old Flaherty received a platelet-rich-plasma injection in the shoulder in March to deal with the inflammation.

Recovery was initially slow but has picked up recently. Flaherty pitched seven total innings over his two rehab stints and struck out nine while allowing one run and one hit (a homer). Flaherty threw 59 pitches in Friday’s outing.

“He was very adamant about a couple of things: Mainly physically and mentally, he wanted to increase not just the workload, but also the intensity of everything he’s doing,” Cardinals manager Oliver Marmol said. “Physically, he feels better than he’s ever felt, so he would rather increase the intensity. So, we’ll keep him at what he did last time, but at a higher intensity.”

Right-hander Andre Pallante, who was slated to start against Pittsburgh, will now likely replace Flaherty once he reaches the pitch limit.

Flaherty is 32-24 with a 3.34 ERA in 93 appearances (90 starts) over the previous five seasons. He finished fourth in National League Cy Young balloting in 2019 when he went 11-8 with a 2.75 ERA and 231 strikeouts in 33 starts.

Last season, Flaherty was 9-2 with a 3.22 ERA in 17 appearances (15 starts) while missing time with oblique and shoulder injuries.

–Field Level Media