Jack Flaherty was unhappy over the weekend because of John Mozeliak’s words on KMOX about the pitcher’s shoulder diagnosis.

Flaherty took exception to something … which in his case ain’t exactly breaking news.

As a nod to the Ozark Mountain Daredevils – what up Mike “Supe” Granda? – Flaherty’s nickname should be Jackie Blue.

But just so we know what the fuss is all about, here ya go, and please excuse my paraphrasing…

Mozeliak: Jack has a small tear in his superior labrum anterior and posterior — or, a SLAP tear. The president of baseball operations evidently believes this is the source of Flaherty’s sore shoulder.

Flaherty: Wrong. Mechanics. Bursitis. The righthander seemed to think that Mozeliak’s public vetting of Flaherty’s ailment was put out there to preview the team’s case in the potential arbitration-salary battle against the pitcher.

To be perfectly blunt about this, I don’t really care about the particulars. Please understand I hope Flaherty recovers soon. It would be a shame to see his talent largely wasted for a third consecutive season.

And isn’t this what it’s all about?

You know … pitching?

Flaherty can win his latest debate.

I’d prefer that he win a bunch of games.

I’m not worried about the state of Flaherty’s feelings.

I’m worried about the state of Flaherty’s pitching career.

Flaherty likes to air his grievances – in various forms – on Twitter. As a matter of principle, there’s nothing wrong with that. But it doesn’t help him return to the rotation, reclaim status at the elite level, or do his part to have a peaceful relationship with the Cardinals. And, by extension, the team’s fans.

As sports fans we’re fickle. We’re hypocrites. Twitter play is a lot more enjoyable and acceptable when our favorite athletes are successful. When an athlete can’t play, or doesn’t perform well, Twitter turns and burns on the falling-star athlete. It’s the way of the culture, and Flaherty knows this.

Flaherty is still pitching … but for Team Twitter. Hopefully, he’ll be pitching for the Cardinals in the relatively near future.

Oh, yeah … that … pitching.

When when Flaherty can pitch without being interrupted by ailments, he’s fantastic.

We witnessed the ascent in 2019, when Flaherty was among the best in the industry with his 33 starts, 196 innings, 2.75 ERA, 10.6 strikeouts per nine innings and 0.968 walks/hits per inning. This resume resulted in a fourth-place finish in the NL Cy Young voting. Flaherty was 23 then, and the future seem limitless.

But the baseball gods are especially cruel to pitchers. Since the beginning of the 2020 season Flaherty is tied for 123rd in the majors in starts, 130th in innings pitched, and is tied for 145th among starters in the Baseball Reference version of WAR.

If I had to wager $100, I’d bet on Flaherty making 20+ starts for the Cardinals in 2022. Which isn’t the maximum, but nothing can be done about that now. He’ll miss some time, but it’s premature to write off Jack’s 2022 season.

For the last two-plus years there’s been a lot of chatter about Flaherty’s future with the Cardinals.

1) He’ll leave as a free agent before the 2024 season. No way he’ll stay here, especially given the tension that makes for an uneasy relationship with STL management and fans.

2) Therefore: trade Jack before he has a chance to leave. Get some quality prospects for him. Flaherty gets paid, and the Cardinals add to their collection of beloved prospects.

But this all goes down the tubes unless Flaherty can overcome the injury-related setbacks and be the 2019 version of himself by the time he’s approaching free agency. If he can do that, all kinds of wonderful things will occur:

– Pitching health will make Jack a lot less blue. He’ll be happier, can redirect his nastiness at opposing hitters, and dominate again.

– With a sound right arm-shoulder and the right frame of mind, Jack will get paid, and paid bigly, by the Cardinals – or, more likely, by a free-agent bidder that doesn’t care about the competitive balance tax.

– The Cardinals can take advantage of a Flaherty revival to maximize the trade package they’ll receive for him.

– I’ll add this because Twitter is so important to Flaherty: if he delivers excellent results for the Cardinals, he can put on a smiley-emoji face on Twitter, and the BFIB will smiley-emoji face back at him. Wouldn’t that be nice?

The only way for Flaherty to win the public-approval throwdown against the Cardinals is to come through for the Cardinals and reestablish his value. And once he reestablishes his performance value, his potential contract value will rise.

These little debate-club sessions with St. Louis management may be fun, and his attempt at social-media stardom is cute.

But pitchers pitch.

Is it OK to mention that part?

The pitching is a helluva lot more important than the obsession over Flaherty’s moods, or the speculative mapping of potential outcomes between now and 2024. If Jack wants that Dodger, Padre, Yankee, Red Sox or Mets money, he needs to make his pitch.

By pitching.

It’s all about the pitching.

Thanks for reading …


Bernie invites you to listen to his opinionated sports-talk show on 590-AM The Fan, KFNS. It airs Monday through Thursday from 3-6 p.m. and Friday from 4-6 p.m. You can listen by streaming online or by downloading the “Bernie Show” podcast at 590thefan.com — the 590 app works great and is available in your preferred app store.

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Please email your “Ask Bernie” questions to BernScoops@gmail.com

All stats used in this column were sourced from FanGraphs, Baseball Reference and Stathead.


Bernie Miklasz

Bernie Miklasz

For the last 36 years Bernie Miklasz has entertained, enlightened, and connected with generations of St. Louis sports fans.

While best known for his voice as the lead sports columnist at the Post-Dispatch for 26 years, Bernie has also written for The Athletic, Dallas Morning News and Baltimore News American. A 2023 inductee into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame, Bernie has hosted radio shows in St. Louis, Dallas, Baltimore and Washington D.C.

Bernie, his wife Kirsten and their cats reside in the Skinker-DeBaliviere neighborhood of St. Louis.