Matthew Liberatore will open the season in Triple-A
Once a promising pitching prospect, Matthew Liberatore has not lived up to expectations in St. Louis as a starting pitcher. The already questionable Randy Arozarena trade looks even worse as Liberatore has yet to find his form at the Major League level. His velocity and control have both been inconsistent, especially in late innings, leading the Cardinals to explore options for him as a bullpen arm instead of a starter.
Through his first two stints in MLB, Liberatore recorded a 5.51 ERA through 18 starts and 31 total appearances. He saw improvements in 2023, decreasing his walk rate and home run rate quite significantly, but still has yet to prove his ability as a competent Major League starter, even at the backend of the rotation.
With the additions of Sonny Gray, Kyle Gibson, and Lance Lynn, Liberatore doesn't figure into the rotation plans at all for 2024. Even if one of the starters were to suffer an injury, Zack Thompson would likely get the open starting job over Liberatore. It's been reported that the Cardinals may look to explore using Liberatore as a multi-inning high-leverage reliever similar to former Cardinal Andrew Miller during his prime. If that's the case, he'll have to open the year in Triple-A to get acclimated to becoming a full-time bullpen arm.
At just 24 years old, it's still too early to label Matthew Liberatore as a bust of a pitching prospect, but time is running out for him to prove his abilities at the Major League level. With far more options in 2024 than they had in 2023, the Cardinals are better off allowing Liberatore to try and figure something out in the Minors rather than using him in Major League action to open the season.