The St. Louis Cardinals expect Matthew Liberatore to debut in 2022, but it’s expected to come after the All-Star break.
The St. Louis Cardinals will have a lot of familiar faces return in 2022 – Nolan Arenado, Paul Goldschmidt, Adam Wainwright, Yadier Molina – and will also have a prominent new face in Steven Matz, who is going to round out the team’s rotation.
But Nolan Gorman and Matthew Liberatore, two of the Cardinals’ top prospects, are expected to debut. While Gorman may be called up at some point in the first half of the season, especially with the universal DH likely to be implemented, Liberatore is expected to debut in the second half of 2022, according to Zachary Silver of MLB.com.
Entering the 2022 season, the Cardinals have five established starting pitchers. Jack Flaherty and Adam Wainwright will headline the unit while Matz, Dakota Hudson and Miles Mikolas will be 3-5. It means that Liberatore, who is viewed as a long-term starting pitcher, may not have a spot in the rotation once he’s called up. And that’s okay.
Just look at the Milwaukee Brewers. Their trio of starting pitchers – Corbin Burnes, Brandon Woodruff and Freddy Peralta – which are largely considered the best unit in baseball, did not start their major league careers as starters. Instead, they were brought up as relievers and were eased into action and were developed by Brewers pitching coaches Derek Johnson and Chris Hook.
Mike Maddux, the Cardinals’ long-time pitching coach, could have a similar impact on Liberatore – and it could lead to him having the type of long-term success that the organization has envisioned since acquiring him from the Tampa Bay Rays. While Liberatore, 22, has struggled a bit in the minors, posting a 4.04 ERA in 122 innings with Triple-A Memphis this past season, the front office is confident that he will be a cornerstone pitcher in the rotation.
We will get our first glimpse of Liberatore in the majors at some point this season, though unless something changes, we’ll have to wait until after the All-Star break for it to happen.