Cardinals: 3 trades to replace Jack Flaherty if injury is serious

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MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN – JUNE 21: Jack Flaherty #22 of the St. Louis Cardinals throws a pitch in the first inning against the Milwaukee Brewers at American Family Field on June 21, 2022 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Cardinals defeated the Brewers 6-2. (Photo by John Fisher/Getty Images)

Jack Flaherty was placed on the 15-day injured list. The extent of the injury is unknown at this time. There are several trades the St. Louis Cardinals should consider if the injury keeps him out long-term.

Jack Flaherty was placed on the 15-day injured list with a right shoulder strain. Flaherty was removed after two innings of work Sunday as the St. Louis Cardinals battled the Chicago Cubs. After the game, Manager Oli Marmol said Flaherty was removed for precautionary reasons after experiencing “dead arm” symptoms.

The Cardinals had high hopes their ace would return to form this season after being out much of 2021 with an oblique injury followed by shoulder issues. Earlier this year, the shoulder bursitis issue was treated with a platelet-rich plasma injection.

The Cardinals had him on a rehab assignment with the organization’s Triple-A team in Memphis. The team surprised fans when instead of making a start in Memphis, he instead started for St. Louis.

John Mozeliak, Cardinals president of baseball operations, and Flaherty discussed that early comeback. While neither thinks the comeback and the shoulder strain are connected, they do hope to get him back this season.

Flaherty’s shoulder strain combined with other struggles suggests a need for the Cardinals to hit the trade market to get some help for the starting rotation as soon as possible.

Let’s take a look at some options the Cardinals could consider.

Cardinals could trade for Luis Castillo

Sure, Luis Castillo is the top-of-the-rotation arm for the NL Central rival Cincinnati Reds. But, he is exactly the caliber arm the Cardinals need, especially if Flaherty goes down for any substantial length of time.

Castillo is 2-4 on the season, having thrown 51 innings over nine starts. He has an ERA of 3.71 and 49 strikeouts over the season. About 49.1% of his pitches induce grounders. Last season Castillo benefited from having a defense that included Kyle Farmer, Mike Moustakas, Jonathan India, Joey Votto, and Eugenio Suarez to get those grounders. This season, however, India has been on and off the injured list, currently, day to day with a hand issue, while Suarez was traded to the Seattle Mariners.

While their defense is struggling to find its place, the Cardinals have a pretty spectacular defense that is golden. Gold Glove outfielders Tyler O’Neill and Harrison Bader are each on the injured list, but the Cards do have Gold Glovers Nolan Arenado, Paul Goldschmidt, and Tommy Edman in the infield. Nolan Gorman has turned into a pretty great second baseman as Edman transitioned to shortstop upon his arrival.

It would be fun to see how Castillo would benefit from having a better defense behind him, not to mention insight from pitching coach Mike Maddux and the catching staff led by Yadier Molina, who is currently on the injured list with knee soreness.  Andrew Knizner and Ivan Herrera have been fairly successful in Molina’s place.

While the Reds may not want to deal their top starter to a division rival, especially the Cardinals, it will be interesting to see what the Reds do at the deadline after so many moves before the season began that upset the fan base.

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