A winner-take-all, sudden death MLB postseason game is usually a stressful game for both teams involved. The St. Louis Cardinals had the exact opposite of that, as they coasted past the Atlanta Braves 13-1 to advance to the NLCS.
The Cardinals dropped a 10-spot in the first inning, without hitting a home run. There's no way they would utilize pitching phenom Jack Flaherty in a game that was essentially over from the start, right? Wrong.
Manager Mike Shildt allowed Flaherty to throw 104 pitches...in a blowout, which is extremely risky.
You'd think that Schildt would take advantage of the double digit lead and use Flaherty for a maximum of a few innings. Instead, he was on the rubber for a full six innings and reached a triple digit pitch count.
Look, we get it, Shildt wanted to rest the bullpen that has struggled mightily in the NLDS (owning a zero percent save percentage).
But, they've now cost themselves the opportunity to use Flaherty earlier in the NLCS against either the Los Angeles Dodgers or Washington Nationals, which may prevent him from making two starts in the series.
Flaherty enters the next series with a 2.77 ERA, 16 strikeouts, and a 1-1 record in the NLDS. For the Cardinals sake, they'd better hope that Flaherty continues to pitch out of his mind in the NLCS, and that his heavy workload in Game 5 doesn't come back to haunt them.