SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – A big-time arm could return to the St. Louis Cardinals rotation soon in the final weeks of the team’s postseason push.

Jack Flaherty, working to return from ongoing shoulder issues, will make his fifth and final rehab start of the month Wednesday for the Double-A affiliate Springfield Cardinals.

Flaherty, limited to just three MLB starts this season amid shoulder concerns, has covered 13.1 innings over four rehab starts in August. He’s increased his innings count in each of his last three outings, limiting opponents to one run or less each time.

A healthy Flaherty could give the Cardinals a big boost. The 26-year-old was heavily relied upon in the 2019 campaign, when he finished with an 11-8 record, a 2.75 ERA and NL-leading 0.97 WHIP. He worked around various injuries to produce a respectable 3.91 ERA, 1.17 WHIP and 140 strikeouts in 126.2 innings over the last two pandemic-altered seasons.

If Flaherty checks out healthy after Wednesday, he is expected to slot into the rotation on Labor Day, when the Cardinals kick off a four-game home series against the Washington Nationals. Flaherty’s return would likely oust Dakota Hudson, who has only pitched past five innings once since the All-Star break, from the rotation.

The regular September rotation is projected to include Adam Wainwright, Miles Mikolas and Jack Flaherty, all who have had Top 6 finishes in previous seasons with the Cardinals, in addition to new southpaws Jose Quintana and Jordan Montgomery.