Jack Flaherty tossed six innings, allowing one run on two hits and two walks while striking out 11 to record his second win of the season as the Cardinals beat the Pirates 2-1 on Sunday. Flaherty allowed a leadoff double to Bryan Reynolds in the fourth inning and the Pirates brought him around to score on a sacrifice fly later in the frame. Flaherty threw 102 pitches, 61 of them for strikes, and the Cardinals improved to 26-24 with the victory. They are now one game ahead of both the Reds and Brewers for Second Place in the NL Central in what figures to be one of the final week's most exciting playoff races.
Flaherty had his first truly dominant start of the season on Sunday. He nearly doubled his previous season high in strikeouts from six to 11. It came on the heels of a disaster outing and showed fantasy owners that he can still be trusted as a fantasy ace. He has a 4.84 ERA across 35 1/3 innings pitched this season but his 3.27 xFIP indicates some bad luck contributing to his bloated ERA. Flaherty's BABIP, HR/FB% and LOB% are all worse than his career averages and if there were more time left in the season he'd be a good buy low candidate. He will face the Brewers on Friday in his final start of the season where he has a chance to redeem himself for his previous start.