Cardinals: Matthew Liberatore not worried by increased expectations

Cardinals pitcher Matthew Liberatore watched Randy Arozarena tear up the postseason, but says it will not impact him moving forward.

When the St. Louis Cardinals acquired Matthew Liberatore, the team envisioned landing the future ace of their starting rotation. After all, the left-hander was the consensus top pitching prospect in baseball and the front office, led by president of baseball operations John Mozeliak, believed it was getting a steal landing Liberatore for Jose Martinez, Randy Arozarena and a Competitive Balance Round A Draft selection.

Instead, it has not worked out the way the Cardinals envisioned. Arozarena turned into a postseason hero for the Tampa Bay Rays, hitting his 10th home run of the postseason in Game 6 of the World Series while slashing .377/.442/.831 with 19 runs and 14 RBI in 20 postseason games.

Asked if he is feeling the pressure to meet Arozarena’s production, Liberatore shook it off in an interview with Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

“I watched a lot of the postseason,” Liberatore said Wednesday. “I did watch Arozarena.”

“I don’t feel any added pressure on me or added expectations because of the way he performed,” Liberatore said. “Coming from the Rays, too, I wanted to see how they performed in the postseason games. I don’t really feel like it ever crossed my mind like, ‘Oh, that’s the guy I got traded for.’ I have expectations that I have to live up to. At the end of the day, my competition is myself. I wish him all the best. I want to see him go out there and have success and when it comes to what I need to take care of I’m looking in the mirror every day and competing against that guy.”

The Cardinals expect Liberatore to pitch in the majors at some point this season, though in what capacity will not be determined until he is called up. He threw live batting practice, including simulated game, action to Yadier Molina and others on the roster as they came back from COVID-19. The team believes he has the makings of a future star and Liberatore, as expected, said that Arozarena’s postseason success will not be on his mind when he takes the mound in spring training and during the season.