The shortened season can giveth and the shortened season can taketh. For St. Louis’ Jack Flaherty , it was more of the latter. Overall, his 2020 season looks less than stellar. A 4-3 record across 40.1 innings on the bump with a porous 4.91 ERA. However, his 4.11 FIP indicates luck was not on his side, and for half of the year, he was a Cy Young candidate. The end of the year derailed his overall stat line, and one bad performance in September turned Flaherty’s stat line from good to bad, very quick. Overall, he’s not without fault, but in a shortened season, there’s less wiggle room for error, especially with pitchers.

Flaherty’s meltdown in Milwaukee in September blew up his 2020 stat line. Sure, allowing nine earned runs over three innings of work is going to hurt you, but doing so with 40 innings to your name versus 180 innings makes a big difference on that earned run average. I mentioned he was a Cy Young candidate early on, and there’s no arguing that. Look at this, courtesy of FanGraphs:

- First four starts (18.2 IP): 8.20 K/9, 1.93 BB/9, 0.96 HR/9, 48% GB, 18.2 HR/FB rate, 85.3 average exit velocity (EV), 1.93 ERA and 3.73 FIP

Sure, his strikeouts were down, but with time, they would bounce back, and everything else there is pretty damn good. Everything was fine and dandy, but then the latter part of the season hit, and s**t hit the fan for Flaherty, mostly in one contest.

- Final five starts (21.2IP): 13.29 K/9, 4.98 BB/9, 1.66 HR/9, 37.3% GB, 26.7 HR/FB, 90.1 average exit velocity (EV), 7.48 ERA and 4.44 FIP

For comparison’s sake…











First Four Starts







85.3 mph



Final Five Starts







90.1 mph



He did allow some harder contact in 2020, and there was a jump in exit velocity on just fly balls and line drives. Does that likely play into the fact that his HR/FB mark jumped to 23.1 percent after being under 15.5 percent the two seasons prior? Probably, for sure. However, as I mentioned earlier, a few bad breaks here and there can derail your season quickly when you throw one quarter of the innings you normally would.


Avg. Exit Velocity on FB/LD


91.6 mph


91.2 mph


93.2 mph

Courtesy of Baseball Savant

His 4.91 ERA on the season is far from the pitcher he actually was. If you remove his horrid start against the Brewers, he posts an ERA of 3.13 on the year and we are talking about another solid campaign for the young right-hander. Furthermore, outside of that contest, he allowed three earned runs in a start twice, and every other start of the year he allowed two or fewer earned runs.

St. Louis acquiring Nolan Arenado certainly helps the offense and everyone is quick to point out that it helps many of the hitters in the team’s lineup, as Arenado will help pad their counting stats. Well, it’s really, really good for the St. Louis pitchers, as Arenado boasts one of the most dependable gloves in the game. Last year, the third base position for the Cardinals combined for a .930 fielding percentage, which was second-worst in the National League. Last year, Arenado posted a .982 fielding percentage. When Flaherty isn’t striking guys out, an elevated ground ball rate is even more imperative in 2021 for two reasons: 1) He can’t get hurt by the long ball by keeping the ball on the ground, and 2) his infield defense is improved behind him.

Since the start of 2019, Flaherty has posted the second-best wFB behind only Gerrit Cole and the sixth-best wSL behind the likes of Justin Verlander , Max Scherzer , Jacob deGrom , Patrick Corbin , and Cole. Flaherty has impressive stuff and while he can be a big-time strikeout guy, he doesn’t need to be. He can use the defense behind him and be an 11.0 K/9 guy and be uber-valuable in fantasy.

At the time of this writing, he’s the SP11, per NFBC data, and you can count me as all-in at this price. He has the top-tier talent to headline a fantasy rotation and don’t let his stat line from last year scare you away. He’s above average in the strikeout department and should be pitching with an improved infield defense behind him. Flaherty seems like a steal at this price.

Statistical Credits: