In the second game of the St. Louis Cardinals’ spring slate, fans will get to see the team’s top pitching prospect, Matthew Liberatore.
Spring training doesn’t really start until the St. Louis Cardinals play the Miami Marlins. As the team that shares Roger Dean Stadium with the Redbirds, spring training always features a lot of matchups against the fish.
On Tuesday, the two teams will face off for the first of six meetings this spring in what will be a seven-inning game. Teams have the option to play anywhere from seven to nine innings this year as they see fit. At the end of the day, spring games aren’t for winning and losing, it’s just a warmup so there isn’t a reason to get upset over just seven innings. Also, by the seventh most regulars are out of the lineup anyway.
In the shortened game, Cardinals’ fans will be treated to a very nice group of arms to watch.
Adam Wainwright will make his spring debut ahead of his 16th MLB season as he hopes to carry over the last two seasons of success into 2021. After Waino, the Daniel Ponce de Leon, Jake Woodford, and Tyler Webb gauntlet is going to be interesting to watch as well.
There isn’t a reason to read into why Woodford is sandwiched between two locks for the MLB roster, but he’s a pitcher that will likely see MLB innings at some point this year.
Finally, fans will get to watch the young Matthew Liberatore throw his first inning this spring. There has been talk that Liberatore could see the Majors at some point this season. As a 21-year-old who last pitched at Low-A though, there is no reason to rush the tall lefty.
The notion that Liberatore somehow has more pressure to pan out because of the success of Randy Arozarena gladly seems to be fading. Already, Liberatore’s curveball was named the best in the minor leagues by Jim Callis of MLB.com.
After slipping some in prospect rankings in 2020, Liberatore was ranked as high as 37 and as low as 46 on the top 100 lists of the big three (Baseball America, MLB Pipeline, Baseball Prospectus). He’s got plenty of talent, there is no reason to ruin it by pushing him too hard.
Compared to the first game of the spring, the Cardinals are going with a lineup with fewer regulars on Tuesday.
In a shortened spring schedule in terms of both games and now innings too, the Cardinals need to let their position battles play out. With the game being just seven innings, it’ll be interesting if Mike Shildt lets the top of the order get just one at-bat instead of two before substituting them out.
Liberatore will get his innings this spring, but getting to see him work again as well as Nolan Arenado will be exciting.