5 paths the St. Louis Cardinals can take to find a fifth starter

With Matthew Liberatore likely being moved back to the bullpen, who can the St. Louis Cardinals turn to every 5 days?
St. Louis Cardinals v Miami Marlins
St. Louis Cardinals v Miami Marlins / Rich Storry/GettyImages
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Ever since Steven Matz went down with a lower back strain on May 1st, the Cardinals have struggled to fill his spot in the rotation. Some off days early in the month allowed the team to get by with just 4 regular starting pitchers, but Matthew Liberatore has had to fill in for three starts that would have otherwise been Matz's. The front office has botched this situation thus far.

As of now, there is no timetable regarding Steven Matz's return. The last update, per John Denton of MLB.com, was that Matz hadn't begun a throwing program as of May 12th. He instead received another pain-killing injection. Matz hasn't resumed playing catch at any distance, and his 15-day stint could quickly transition into a 60-day IL placement if he doesn't show improvement soon.

Libby was an excellent reliever before transitioning back to the rotation. He was a starting pitcher in the minors, but his struggles in that role in St. Louis pushed him to be a reliever this year. While Liberatore wasn't featured in the back of the bullpen -- those spots have been reserved for Andrew Kittredge, JoJo Romero, and Ryan Helsley -- he played the important role of bridging starters to those three.

Below you'll find Libby's splits this year as a starter and a reliever.

Innings Pitched



Opponent BA

As a starter





As a reliever





It is clear (and has been since 2022) that Matthew Liberatore has not been a successful starting pitcher in the majors. Whether this is attributable to a lack of fastball velocity when being extended, hitters understanding him better the third time through the order, or a multitude of other issues, it's clear now that Matthew Liberatore is not built to be a starting pitcher for the Cardinals, at least for now.

That has forced the team's hand. Now, they must scramble to find a fifth starter to take Matz's place in the rotation. The team has some internal choices in the minors, but there are also a couple of outside options that could help the team in the near and distant future. The Cardinals could promote or sign a true fifth starter -- someone who will give the team a fighting chance to win but not blow anyone out. They could also make a move for another high-end guy to bolster the rotation for the long haul.

Here are 5 pitchers who could become the fifth starter for the St. Louis Cardinals.