Jack Flaherty will be put on the IR for a few weeks after experiencing shoulder inflammation. Flaherty was poised to take a step forward this season after posting a 3.22 ERA and 85 Ks over 78 innings for a team that was able to make the playoffs and has a solid young core that continues to grow. So with fantasy drafts approaching, what is the long term outlook for Flaherty’s shoulder injury?
Will Jack Flaherty take a step back after his shoulder injury?
According to the president of operations for the Cardinals, Jack Flaherty was diagnosed with a “small tear in his SLAP” and will see Dr. Ellattrache for a PRP injection and then they re-evaluate where he is. The injury was said to have started in the offseason, while Flaherty was not under the supervision of the Cardinals. Allegedly, after feeling discomfort, he stopped throwing, started again at camp, and started having issues again. A SLAP tear is a tear of the labrum that involves the tearing from where the biceps attaches into the shoulder joint. The role of the labrum is to be the passive stability of the shoulder in the socket. A common mechanism for an overhead athlete to get this is an anterior translation of the shoulder in the socket during open packed position such as the late cocking phase of throwing when the arm is behind the pitcher and about to come forward before release. During this phase, the humeral head translates forward and puts excessive pressure on the biceps, which over time, pulls on its insertion leading to fraying and eventually tearing.
The good news is that labral tears in pitchers are common. In a 2013 study, 21 pitchers who underwent MRIs and 10/21 had SLAP tears. The other important part of this study was that these pitchers had no previous shoulder complaints and were not aware they had the tear, thus showing that with time, it’s possible that this injury will return to normal. Jack Flaherty himself says that he has known about this tear for many seasons and has been able to deal with it. With such a small time to ramp up for the start of the season, these are the kind of injuries we should expect to see out of pitchers over the next few months.
Flaherty should be fine with this injury and it should not hold any long-term negative outlook. A good rehab program should help prevent further issues, as conservative management has as good of outcomes as surgery for labral pathologies. I would expect that the Cardinals will be cautious with their rising pitcher and will likely limit innings and pull him if irritation occurs again, which is possible. However, I would not expect him, when healthy, to have any decrease in efficiency in his stats. With that being said, he did register a high FIP last season and a low BABIP so a regression is likely from last season. This injury could mean the luck has run out for Jack Flaherty. I would expect Flaherty to produce season long in the area he is currently being drafted as the 20-30th pitcher off the board even with his injury.
Flaherty should be able to produce at his projections with his shoulder injury. He will provide wins as he is on a great team in a bad division, but a regression from last season should be expected. Take advantage of the hesitancy of other owners on this injury if he drops in your drafts. If you need additional incentives or something to tell those who ask why you drafted, just simply assume 50% of the other teams’ pitchers could easily have labral tears too based upon the evidence.