MLB: The 25 most valuable pitchers of 2019

NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 29: Jacob deGrom #48 of the New York Mets in action against the Chicago Cubs during a game at Citi Field on August 29, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 29: Jacob deGrom #48 of the New York Mets in action against the Chicago Cubs during a game at Citi Field on August 29, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images) /
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(Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
(Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images) /

5. Jack Flaherty, St. Louis Cardinals, $13.729 million value; $562,000 salary

Flaherty is one of the best illustrations of the fact that the best pitchers often arrive at a young and inexpensive age. Only recently turned 24, he blossomed into the ace of the Cardinal staff in his second full season, with a 2.75 ERA in 33 starts.

He also got better as he built experience, holding opposing batters to a .142 batting average over his 15 second half starts. In the heat of the September pennant race, Flaherty’s six starts produced a 3-1 record and 0.82 ERA.

Flaherty’s 196.1 innings of work represented only MLB’s 19th highest total, carrying a $5.022 million value. Teams are always leery about over-working kids. His 231 strikeouts ranked 13th with a $2.992 million value. He had five double-digit strikeout games, three of them in September.

Flaherty’s 155 ERA+, ninth-best, elevated his overall status to top 5. It brought a final $5.715 million.

Flaherty had an almost mystical ability to retire the other team’s cleanup hitters. He faced 93 batters in the No. 4 slot in 2019, and only 14 of them got a base hit off him; that’s an embarrassing .177 batting average against him from the four slot.

As a pre-arb player, Flaherty should continue to produce remarkable value for the Cardinals in 2020.