Jack Flaherty's dominant Tigers debut gives fans hope for a bounce-back season

Detroit Tigers v Chicago White Sox
Detroit Tigers v Chicago White Sox / Nuccio DiNuzzo/GettyImages

On Sunday afternoon, the Detroit Tigers completed their sweep of the Chicago White Sox after a low-scoring, back-and-forth Game 3 dominated by home runs but otherwise great performances from both starters — Jack Flaherty and Erick Fedde — looking for resurgent 2024 seasons.

Sunday's win marks the Tigers' first 3-0 record to begin a season since 2016, which speaks both to the absolute valley the franchise has been stuck in over the past few years and the hype for the 2024 season that the team built up through the offseason and into spring training. These Tigers are building off the momentum leftover from the end of last year, when they placed second for their best divisional finish since, once again, 2016.

When Detroit signed Jack Flaherty, there were worries that the team was giving too much money to a pitcher who's struggled mightily over the last few seasons, who might mess with the excitement the Tigers were building. They weren't unfounded worries — Flaherty has dealt with both injuries and poor performance — but the Tigers clearly had faith in him and themselves in facilitating a bounce-back.

His first start for the Tigers may already mark the start of something good. In Sunday's game, he pitched six innings, giving up four hits but only one earned run on a Korey Lee solo homer, walked none, and struck out seven.

Jack Flaherty is looking like a real bounce-back candidate for the Tigers after great debut vs. White Sox

Flaherty even looked good during spring training, when he pitched 18 1/3 innings for a 2.95 ERA. Other than one rough outing against the Yankees, he progressively built up into a strikeout machine who could hold firm under pressure. In his last start of the spring, he gave up five hits but kept the runs to two while he struck out eight in between.

And Flaherty needs a resurgent season for himself just as much as the Tigers do for the team. He hasn't looked the same since his MVP and Cy Young-votes getting 2019 season, bogged down by multiple injuries and, evidently, some kind of mental funk. He's on a one-year contract with Detroit, so it's not totally dramatic to say that he's fighting for his future in the major leagues this year. If he can continue to look anything like he did today, it'll be good — perhaps even season-deciding — for everyone.