5 Cardinals players most likely to have a breakout season in 2023

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Matthew Liberatore

Like Burleson, there's never been a question as to whether Liberatore has the talent to succeed in the big leagues or not. It's just been about him capitalizing on his opportunities and running with them.

Last year's numbers don't properly indicate how Liberatore performed throughout the season. In Triple-A, he had a 5.17 ERA in 22 starts and 115 innings. He punched out 9.1 batters per nine but also saw his walks go up. He earned a brief promotion to the big leagues as well, but this was also largely uninspiring.

The 23-year-old southpaw, like many others on the roster, entered Spring Training with a chip on his shoulders. He knew that there was work to be done and that he'll need to see some improvements if there's going to be any hope for him, at least in the Cardinals' organization.

Sure enough, Liberatore looked amazing during spring. In three appearances (two starts), he posted a 1.80 ERA in 10 innings, striking out nine and walking just one batter. He saw a significant boost in velocity on his fastball, reaching up to 97mph after comfortably sitting in the 94-95mph range last year.

Liberatore pairs his fastball with a massive curveball that has a ton of break. At various times in spring, Cardinals manager Oli Marmol specifically pointed out his velocity and how his sweeping curveball was impressive early on.

Things are off to a great start in the regular season as well. While he did not make the Opening Day roster, Liberatore has likely found himself at the top of the list for potential call-ups when injuries arise. In his first start for Memphis, he threw five shutout innings with just four hits allowed and seven strikeouts as well. So far, so good for the pitcher who is looking to finally elevate his game to the next level.