5 Cardinals already playing themselves into bigger roles in 2024

While the season may be lost, each game the Cardinals play this year is an opportunity for players to prove their value, and these five guys are showing theirs.
Colorado Rockies v St. Louis Cardinals
Colorado Rockies v St. Louis Cardinals / Joe Puetz/GettyImages
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Matthew Liberatore

Before his start against the Tampa Bay Rays, it really seemed like Matthew Liberatore was running out of chances to prove he could be a real rotatoin option for the Cardinals in 2024. Sure, he's still young (just 23 years old), but he continues to run into the same issues that make it very difficult to see him as a starter long-term.

And then, not only with his back up against the wall performance-wise but playing in perhaps the biggest game of his career, against the team that traded him, Liberatore went out and shoved. He looked incredible.

Throwing 8 scoreless innings, 7 strikeouts, just 2 hits, and 0 walks allowed, Liberatore shut down one of the best offenses in baseball and did so in style. His fastball velocity was up during the game, which will be critical for his growth as a starter, and his command was excellent throughout.

Now, just like the next name on this list, there is no guarantee that Liberatore will make the 2024 rotation just based on this one performance. But seriously, he did himself a ton of favors with this one. In all honesty, he just hasn't shown much upside as a starter in his Major League appearances, but this start showed why he is a former top-100 prospect.

Liberatore should enter 2024 firmly in the mix for the number five spot in the Cardinals' rotation, assuming this start is a stepping-stone performance for him. No one should expect him to go out and pitch like this each game, but if he can even look somewhat like this version of himself the rest of the year, that's a really good number-five option for St. Louis.