Californian Flaherty moves down coast to face Padres in second career start

Cardinals rookie Jack Flaherty is a former star at Los Angeles' Harvard-Westlake School.
Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

SAN DIEGO — It is a homecoming of sorts in a visiting park as St. Louis Cardinals right-hander and California native Jack Flaherty faces the San Diego Padres on Wednesday in his second major league start.

Flaherty, St. Louis’ first-round draft pick in 2014, is actually from Los Angeles, but his turn in the rotation comes while he is a couple of hours south.

It was about 500 miles up the West Coast where Flaherty, 21, made his debut Friday against the San Francisco Giants. He allowed five runs and eight hits and struck out six over four innings.

Flaherty didn’t get a decision as the Cardinals rallied for an 11-6 victory, but he did enough to have manager Mike Matheny render a verdict.

“He was better than what his line said,” Matheny said. “He had good stuff, and he’s a kid that is going to compete. I’m anxious to see him get another chance by getting back out there.”

The Padres are up next for the former star at Los Angeles’ Harvard-Westlake School, where Flaherty was 23-0 with a 0.63 ERA in his last two seasons. He turned down a scholarship to the University of North Carolina, hitching his dream to the Cardinals as the 34th overall pick.

This will be his 27th start of the season after splitting time in Triple-A Memphis and Double-A Springfield. The 6-foot-4, 205-pound right-hander went a combined 14-4 with a 2.18 ERA at those two stops.

“He has a good makeup,” Matheny said. “He has good stuff. It’s going to lead to success.”

It just didn’t come when he christened his career, but all is not lost, Matheny said.

“It was a good first step,” he said. “It looked like he had a nice approach and he was consistent across the board.”

Matheny was just as impressed with what Flaherty didn’t do when the Giants got to him: He didn’t panic.

“He had the composure to handle the rough innings,” he said. “I just think he will be better locating his fastball than he did his first time.”

Flaherty will need to continue keeping his cool if he is to help St. Louis, which is four games behind the first-place Chicago Cubs in the National League Central and three behind the Colorado Rockies for the final NL wild-card spot, reach the postseason.

The Padres’ Wednesday starter, Dinelson Lamet, may have trouble matching his last performance. Lamet (7-6, 4.40 ERA) lost Friday despite working six innings and allowing a run on six hits and three walks with 10 strikeouts. He was going against the Los Angeles Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw, who bested him 1-0.

“You lose a game short-term, but to see somebody square off against Clayton Kershaw, and for the most part match him, you can’t ask anything more from him,” Padres manager Andy Green said of his right-hander.

Lamet must channel the same energy he had against Kershaw when facing the Cardinals for the first time.

“It was a pleasure to face (Kershaw), and it definitely motivated me,” Lamet said through a translator. “I knew I was going to have to give my best effort. I knew he was going to make pitches, so I had to do the same.”

The Cardinals will be looking to clinch the four-game series Wednesday. They took the opener 2-0 on Monday, then beat the Padres 8-4 on Tuesday behind two homers from José Martínez.