Cardinals Must Put Matthew Liberatore Back in Bullpen, Writer Says

Cardinals lefhander Matthew Liberatore throws a pitch

Getty Images St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Matthew Liberatore.

In three starts for the St. Louis Cardinals, lefthander Matthew Liberatore has a 9.00 ERA in 10 innings pitched. The Cardinals lost all three games.

Calling Liberatore’s “latest audition a flop,” Scoops Sports Network’s Bernie Miklasz wrote that it’s time to put Liberatore back in the Cardinals’ bullpen where he belongs.

“Liberate him. Put him back in the bullpen,” Miklasz, the former St. Louis Post-Dispatch columnist, wrote on May 20. “End this ridiculous situation that exposes the Cardinals’ pathetic lack of starting-pitching depth and stubborn refusal to acknowledge failure and make sensible adjustments.”

Liberatore, 24, has been subbing for injured starter Steven Matz but has been ineffective, giving up 14 hits, 3 walks and a home run. He was more effective as a bullpen reliever in lefty vs. lefty matchups, according to Miklasz.

“Instead of cultivating Liberatore to become a bullpen fixture, the Cardinals repeatedly sent him back out there to absorb beatings as a starter,” he wrote. “And with this seriously flawed thinking, the St. Louis baseball brains weakened the starting pitching and the bullpen in one move.”

Cardinals Manager Oliver Marmol Discusses Matthew Liberatore’s Role

Following Liberatore’s last start, an 11-3 loss to the Boston Red Sox on May 19 at Busch Stadium, Cardinals manager Oliver Marmol told reporters he didn’t have a “great answer” for the situation involving Liberatore.

“He’s taking his best shot for the situation that we’re in, and it does complicate things for the ’pen a little bit because you end up overextending guys,” Marmol said. “You’re asking them to do more than they need to do, and they’re out there for extra outs, an extra inning. It’s a combination that puts them in a tough spot for that game and the following days, as well. It is tough. I don’t have a great answer for you.”

The Athletic’s Katie Woo called into question the Cardinals’ strategy.

“[B]y plugging Liberatore into the rotation as a spot starter, the Cardinals are subtracting value from their strongest area,” Woo wrote on May 17. “Essentially, they took an important piece from their most successful portion of the roster and made the rotation and the bullpen weaker in the process.”

Overall, Liberatore (1-2) has made 16 total appearances, posting a 5.30 ERA with 20 strikeouts in 26.2 innings pitches. He was originally projected as a starter in the minor leagues, but has been predominately used as a left-handed bullpen option in 2024.

Marmol said the club believes Liberatore has a good enough arm to be successful in the rotation eventually.

“This is a guy that’s settling into a bullpen role and doing a really nice job,” Marmol told reporters. “He’s filling a need for us. I appreciate the way he’s handling it because that’s not an easy thing to do.

He said that many of the plans he had for his pitching staff have been sidetracked due to all the mixing and matching he’s had to do to cover for injuries.

“I think we were pretty clear in spring training that we were wanting to assign roles and guys show up every day knowing what we expect out of them and understanding how to prepare for that specific role.”

No Timetable For Steven Matz’s Return

Matz went on the injured list on May 3 with a severely strained back. The lefthander, who has posted a 1-2 record and 6.18 ERA in five starts, was originally expected back by early June. However, there’s now no timetable for his return.

John Denton of noted noted on May 12 that Matz hadn’t begun a throwing program and wouldn’t throw for at least another week. He instead received another pain-killing injection.

While Matz won’t reclaim the fifth spot in the rotation in the immediate future, there’s a belief that the Cardinals will search for a replacement for Liberatore, as well.

They could seek temporary relief from their minor league corps, like highly touted prospect Tink Hence. However, according to MLB Trade Rumors’ Mark Polishuk, the team may reach out to 40-year-old free agent Zack Greinke as an option.