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Jack Flaherty Player Outlook: Youth, Upside vs. Age, Track Record

Jack Flaherty is one of the youngest aces in the game. Fantasy owners will have to decide whether they covet his youth and upside or lean toward an older veteran with a longer resume.

St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Jack Flaherty is the new pitching stud on the block.

The 24-year-old is the youngest starting pitcher typically drafted among the top 10 at his position. Some may view this as a risk since he doesn’t have the track record to assuage your concerns; however, his youth also points to continued development and a higher upside. You have to decide what traits you find desirable in the early rounds.

His 2019 season began with an underwhelming 17 starts (4.90 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, and 101 Ks over 90 innings). His Achilles heel in that stretch was the damage stemming from home runs allowed (19). His arm turned to brilliance in his final 16 starts (0.93 ERA, 0.69 WHIP, and 130 Ks over 106.1 innings). In three postseason starts, Flaherty allowed eight runs and 21 baserunners over 17 innings with 22 strikeouts.

He fared very well against both righties (.182) and lefties (.202) with improvement in walk rate (2.5). Despite throwing more strikes, his strikeout rate (10.6) didn't quite match his success in 2018 (10.8). His average fastball (94.7) was a career-best. Each of his four-seamer (.201 BAA), slider (.187 BAA), and sinker (.184 BAA) had winning success while his curveball (.240 BAA) and show-me changeup (.235 BAA) also performed relatively well. All of his pitches were phenomenal during his hot stretch over the second half of 2019 (four-seam – .169 BAA, sinker – .172 BAA, slider – .123 BAA, and curveball – .148 BAA).

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Looking ahead, he needs to clean up his mistakes in home runs allowed. With growth there, he could make the leap into the top two or three at his position. Flaherty is a build-your-team-around-him caliber ace with an ADP of 24. I’m projecting 15 or more wins with a sub-2.50 ERA, and anticipating a push close to 250 strikeouts.

READ MORE: 2020 St. Louis Cardinals Fantasy Team Preview

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