Detroit Tigers banking on a resurgent year from veteran starter to bolster rotation

The Detroit Tigers are banking on Jack Flaherty being serviceable in their rotation. It would be huge for them to get some quality starts from the right-hander.
Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Jack Flaherty (45) throws a pitch during a Spring Training game.
Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Jack Flaherty (45) throws a pitch during a Spring Training game. / Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

The Detroit Tigers made a couple of moves this off-season to bolster their rotation. One of those was bringing in a former pitcher who has received Cy Young votes. Jack Flaherty comes to Detroit in a year with a high ceiling for him. That could be overly optimistic, but it seems like there's a chance for Flaherty to sneak up in terms of his value to the team.

The team took a flier on Jack Flaherty, and there's still a lot to like about this deal for the Detroit Tigers. They're taking a chance on a player who's had flashes of being mighty good during his career. He's 28 years old -- while not a young prospect with 5-6 years of his prime left, he's not 40, and Zack Greinke (though I do love me some Greinke).

Flaherty spent seven seasons with the St. Louis Cardinals before being dealt to the Baltimore Orioles at the trade deadline last season. He pitched in Baltimore's bullpen and continued to work on things, hoping to get back to the pitcher he was a few years ago.

At his best, Flaherty had some of the best stuff in the league and was able to be absolutely dominant on the mound for St. Louis. He was exceptional to watch and had a couple of good seasons with the Cardinals, but inconsistencies proved to be a problem for him.

Detroit Tigers are banking on Jack Flaherty being great in 2024.

After being traded to the Orioles, things went downhill in a 2023 season where his numbers were already not the most spectacular. He finished 2023 with a 4.99 ERA and a 1.58 WHIP, with 66 walks and 148 strikeouts over 144.1 innings of work between his time in St. Louis and Baltimore.

Flaherty came to Detroit looking for a fresh start. With pitching gurus Robin Lund and Chris Fetter on the Tigers' staff, there's a lot to like. There's reason to bank on Flaherty's improvements, expecting him to look more like the part and be the player he has been in past years.

This spring, Flaherty has pitched in five Spring Training games for the Tigers, amassing 13.2 innings pitched. He allowed five runs on nine hits, walked four, and struck out 18 opposing hitters. He posted a 3.29 ERA and a 0.95 WHIP for the Tigers this spring, and his performance showed some improvement.

Sure, it's spring ball, so the stats are misleading, and the sample size is small, but there's plenty to like about what Flaherty did—and plenty to note about the good spring. Detroit signed Flaherty to come in and have a resurgent year. If he's able to do that, he's going to become extremely valuable for the Tigers' starting rotation.

The team will rely on some of their familiar faces but also some newer ones -- Flaherty is a newcomer to keep an eye on. A big year from the right-hander would mean a lot of good things for Detroit.