MLB Notebook: Cardinals Starter Jack Flaherty Reaching Levels of Young Greatness

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On Tuesday night against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field, starting pitcher Jack Flaherty of the St. Louis Cardinals tossed 7.0 scoreless innings of one-hit ball with 11 strikeouts. The right-hander reached those totals for the second time in his career (also June 22, 2018), an outing that has only been replicated-or-bested five other times in franchise history. Jaime García was the last different Cardinals hurler to post such a start, recording a complete-game one-hitter with 13 strikeouts on April 4, 2016.

Entering play today, the 23-year-old has compiled a 10-8 record with 225

strikeouts, 54 walks and a 2.85 ERA across 32 starts and 189.1 innings pitched. Since 1871, Flaherty is on pace to become just the fourth different pitcher (sixth time) in Cardinals lore to record at least 225 strikeouts and an ERA of 2.85-or-better, joining Hall of Famer Bob Gibson, who posted three such seasons (1966, 68-69), as well as Silver King (1888) and Dave Foutz (1886).

Since 1885, the California native is poised to become just the fifth pitcher younger than 24 years old to post a season in which he tallied at least 225 punchouts while permitting 60-or-fewer walks to go along with an ERA of 3.00-or-better, joining Luis Severino, José Fernández, Clayton Kershaw and Mark Prior. The table below depicts the season statistics for the aforementioned pitchers during their dominant campaigns.

In addition, Flaherty, who was drafted with the 34th overall selection by St. Louis in the 2014 MLB Draft, has been particularly effective in the second half of the 2019 season. Since the Midsummer Classic, Jack has not permitted more than three runs in any outing, while also posting four double-digit strikeout efforts. Since the calendar flipped to September, Flaherty has logged three scoreless starts in which he tossed at least 7.0 innings and has delivered a 47:7 strikeout-to-walk ratio over 37.0 innings.

Overall, Flaherty has registered a 6-2 record with 118 strikeouts, 22 walks and a 0.97 ERA during his dominant second half. The Cardinals’ ace is on pace to become the fifth pitcher in Major League history to log an ERA of 1.50-or-better and a strikeout-per-9.0 IP ratio of at least 10.0 in the second half of a season (min. 75.0 IP), joining Hall of Famers Randy Johnson and Nolan Ryan, as well as Kershaw and Johan Santana. The table below illustrates each pitcher’s outstanding second half.


All-Star outfielder Ronald Acuña Jr. of the Atlanta Braves played in his last regular season game of the 2019 season on Tuesday, though he is expected to return in the NLDS. Acuña finished his outstanding regular season with a 280/.365/.518 slash line to go along with 127 runs scored, 175 hits, 22 doubles, 41 home runs, 101 RBI, 76 walks and 37 stolen bases across 156 games played. The 21-year-old phenom will fall three stolen bases short of becoming the fifth player in MLB history to record at least 40 homers and 40 stolen bases in a single campaign. Alfonso Soriano (2006), Alex Rodriguez (1998), Barry Bonds (1996) and Jose Canseco (1988) are still the only players in history to accomplish the feat.

In addition, the Venezuelan native became just the third player younger than 22

years old in Major League history to club at least 40 round-trippers in a season, joining Hall of Famers Eddie Mathews (1953) and Mel Ott (1929). Acuña and Ott are the only players in history to also record at least 120 runs scored in the same season. Moreover, last year’s NL Rookie of the Year became just the fourth different player (fifth time) younger than 22 years old since 1871 to log at least 65 extra-base hits, 120 runs scored and 75 walks in a campaign, joining Hall of Famers Ted Williams, who accomplished the feat twice, Ott and Jimmie Foxx. The table below details the aforementioned young players’ outstanding seasons.


Heading into the final weekend of the regular season, the National League has 163 victories in Interleague games this season, the highest number of victories for the senior circuit since Interleague play began in 1997. It breaks the record from last year’s 158 wins. The most wins by either league came in 2015 when the American League compiled a 167-133 (.557) record in Interleague play.

With a 163-134 (.549) record against the AL, 2019 will mark just the sixth time in MLB history that the NL held a higher winning percentage than their AL counterparts. The other seasons were 2018 (158-142, .527); 1997 (117-97, .547); 2003 (137-115, .544); 1999 (135-116, .538); and 2002 (129-123, .512). In addition, the NL’s winning percentage is on pace to be the highest in history, besting the .547 mark set during the inaugural 1997 season.

LINE DRIVES (Compiled from Club Game Notes)

HOT CORNER: Third baseman Rafael Devers recorded his 87th and 88th extra-base hits of 2019 last night, tied for the most in the Majors. Devers passed Hall of Famer Ted Williams (86 in 1939) for the most extra-base hits by a Red Sox player in a season before turning 23 years old. Devers recorded his 52nd double of 2019, passing Wade Boggs (51 in 1989) for the Sox’ record for a third baseman. Entering play today, Devers has 196 hits, the most by an AL player in a season before turning 23 since Alex Rodriguez in 1996 (215).

ABOUT VARGAS’ NIGHT: On Tuesday night, Ildemaro Vargas became the second D-back with a game-tying homer in the ninth inning-or-later, and then a walk-off hit later in the game, joining Paul Goldschmidt (August 13, 2013 vs. Orioles). Vargas also became the second Diamondbacks player with four hits in a game that he did not start, joining Quinton McCracken (July 18, 2005 vs. Marlins). Vargas’ walk-off hit in the 19th inning was the latest (in terms of innings) walk-off hit by a rookie since Angel Mangual of the A’s on July 9, 1971.

MINOR SEEKING 200 X 2: All-Star starting pitcher Mike Minor entered today’s start with 199.2 innings pitched and 191 strikeouts. Minor is seeking to join Lance Lynn in the 200/200 club in 2019. The only time in Club history in which the Rangers had a pair of starters reach 200 IP/200 SO in the same season was 1990: Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan and Bobby Witt.

OZZIE RUNS: All-Star second baseman Ozzie Albies scored his 99th and 100th runs of the year on Tuesday night, becoming the third Braves player to reach triple-digit runs scored this season. Along with All-Star Ronald Acuña Jr. (127) and Freddie Freeman (112), this Braves Club became the fifth in modern-era franchise history to have a trio of players score triple-digit runs. The 2003 Club was the last do so, when a record five players scored 100 runs.

PROVIDING THE POWER: Trey Mancini leads the Baltimore Orioles with 34 home runs and 38 doubles entering play today. He is the only player in the AL, and one of two in the Majors (also Washington’s Anthony Rendon), with 34-or-more home runs and 38-or-more doubles. If Mancini finishes the season with at least 35 home runs and 35 doubles, it would be the seventh such season in Orioles history (Rafael Palmeiro, 1996 and 1998; Brady Anderson, 1996; Albert Belle, 1999; Chris Davis, 2013; and Manny Machado, 2016).

GENO: All-Star third baseman Eugenio Suárez of the Cincinnati Reds enters play today with a career-high 49 home runs, a record for a player from Venezuela as well as an NL record for a third baseman. His 49 round- trippers are the most by a Reds hitter since George Foster (52) in 1977. Since the All-Star break, Suárez leads the Majors with 29 homers, a new Club record for home runs in the second half of a season. Suárez is trying to become the sixth Reds batter to lead the National League in home runs, and the first since Foster (40) in 1978.

WELL, WELL, DAWEL: Dawel Lugo of the Detroit Tigers went 1-for-3 with a double in last night’s game and has now hit safely in four straight games. After going 2-for-29 in seven games from August 16th-22nd, Lugo has hit safely in 22 of his last 29 games, slashing .315/.336/.541 with eight doubles, a triple, five home runs and 13 RBI over that span.

WELCOME TO THE ‘PEN: CC Sabathia of the New York Yankees tossed a 1-2-3 fourth inning on Tuesday at Tampa Bay, his first career relief appearance in his 561st Major League game. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, his 560 starts were the most before a pitcher’s first relief appearance in Major League history. The only other pitcher ever to make his first 500 appearances as a starter is Hall of Famer Tom Glavine, who started all 682 career appearances.

STRENGTH IN NUMBERS: With Yadier Molina’s 10th home run of the season on Monday, the Cardinals joined the 2019 Los Angeles Dodgers as the only teams in NL history to have 11-or-more players hit at least 10 homers in the same season. In addition, the 2019 Cardinals (204 HR, 114 SB) are just the third team in franchise history to have recorded 200-or-more homers and 100-or-more stolen bases in the same season, joining the 2004 (214 HR, 111 SB) and 1998 (223 HR, 133 SB) squads.

ROOKIE TANDEM II: Bryan Reynolds (154) and Kevin Newman (147) are the first pair of Pirates rookies to collect at least 145 hits in the same season since Bob Elliot (161) and Maurice Van Robays (156) did so in 1940. In addition, the only Pittsburgh rookie teammates to hit .300-or-better while qualifying for the batting title in the same season were Jimmy Williams (.355) and Ginger Beaumont (.352) in 1899. Reynolds is currently hitting .314, while Newman is batting .309.

HIT & RUN: Jon Berti of the Miami Marlins stole a career-high four bases on Tuesday night, matching the single-game Club record shared by Dee Gordon (2015) and Luis Castillo (2000). In addition, Berti scored three runs in Monday’s win to reach the 50-run threshold. Since 1900, only three rookies have finished a season with at least 50 runs scored while playing in fewer than 73 games (the most Berti can play this season): Trea Turner (2016), Kyle Schwarber (2015) and Adam Dunn (2001).

DOUBLE DOWN: Outfielder Nicholas Castellanos has hit safely in 39 of his first 51 games as a Cub, batting .321 (68-for-212) with 21 doubles, 16 homers, 36 RBI and a 1.002 OPS. He has nine doubles in his last 12 games to extend his Major League-leading total to 58 doubles on the season. It marks just the 10th time since 1871 that a player has recorded 58 doubles in a campaign, and the first since Todd Helton (59) in 2000. In addition, Castellanos is just the third right-hander to log at least 55 doubles and 25 home runs (27), joining Hall of Famers Hank Greenberg (1934) and Joe Medwick (1937).

HISTORIC COMPANY: The Houston Astros have now won over 100 games in three straight seasons. Prior to the Astros, only five teams in MLB history have won 100-plus games in three straight years: the Yankees (2002- 04), Braves (1997- 99), Orioles (1969-71), Cardinals (1942-44) and Philadelphia Athletics (1929-31).

12 UNDER .500 TO...: The Washington Nationals became the ninth team in Major League history to come back from 12 games under .500 (19-31) to make the Postseason, and the first since the 2013 Los Angeles Dodgers, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.