As holiday shoppers scramble for last-minute deals, the Detroit Tigers have made a significant move to bolster their pitching rotation. The team has reportedly reached an agreement with right-handed pitcher Jack Flaherty on a one-year contract worth $14 million, pending a physical, according to MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand. ESPN’s Jeff Passan initially broke the news of the deal.
Flaherty, a 28-year-old hurler, was once considered one of baseball’s rising stars during his time with the St. Louis Cardinals. He earned a fourth-place finish in the National League Cy Young voting in 2019 and played a key role in the Cardinals’ playoff success that year. Flaherty’s 2020 and 2021 seasons saw him as the Cardinals’ Opening Day starter, posting a 9-2 record with a 3.22 ERA in the latter campaign. Unfortunately, injuries interrupted his promising career trajectory, including an oblique strain and a shoulder injury.
The 2022 season proved to be a rollercoaster for Flaherty, marked by both strong starts and struggles. Notably, he delivered a dominant performance with seven scoreless innings and 10 strikeouts against the Milwaukee Brewers. However, inconsistency plagued his overall performance. He was eventually traded to the Baltimore Orioles at the August 1 Deadline and concluded the season in Baltimore’s bullpen.
For the year, Flaherty compiled an 8-9 record with a 4.99 ERA in 27 starts and two relief appearances. While his strikeout rate remained solid with 148 strikeouts in 144 1/3 innings, he also issued 66 walks. His hits allowed per nine innings reached a career-high of 10.1.
One area of concern was Flaherty’s reduced fastball velocity, averaging 93.1 mph, down from previous seasons. His slider also lost its effectiveness, with a declining whiff rate. Opposing hitters managed to achieve higher exit velocities against his slider compared to his fastball.
Despite these challenges, the Tigers have shown a knack for helping pitchers revitalize their careers. Pitching coach Chris Fetter, along with his assistants Juan Nieves and Robin Lund, have played a pivotal role in developing both young talents and veterans seeking a resurgence. This approach paid off last season when Michael Lorenzen, under a one-year deal, earned his first All-Star nod before being traded to the Phillies.
With the addition of Jack Flaherty, the Tigers have fortified their rotation, which includes recent signing Kenta Maeda and a promising young core led by Tarik Skubal. The team’s quest for pitching depth continues, as they welcome back Casey Mize from Tommy John surgery and anticipate the return of Matt Manning and Reese Olson, who are recovering from injuries and extensive innings, respectively.
Tigers president of baseball operations Scott Harris emphasized their ongoing pursuit of pitching talent, stating, “We’re always going to be looking for pitching. I just never feel like we have enough pitching, and I’m always going to be looking.”