Cardinals See A New Matthew Liberatore This Spring

When the number of the pitch matches the velocity of the pitch from a starter, that will get noticed, let alone when it comes at the end of another overwhelming start.

Lefthander Matthew Liberatore improved to 3-0, 1.06 ERA in three starts for Triple-A Memphis with a seven inning, 10-strikeout gem, and on his 97th and final pitch of the win delivered a 96 mph fastball.

“That’s not April velo for Libby,” said one team official.

Building off of momentum he generated late in spring training, the 23-year-old Liberatore has caught the eye of the Cardinals’ major league staff for the significant leap he made during camp.

On the back fields, logging innings in a simulated game, Liberatore showed inconsistency from inning to inning. His velocity would flag, his use of an elite curveball would be ignored, and he lacked assertiveness with some pitches.

Cardinals manager Oliver Marmol settled on the word “conviction” to describe what Liberatore needed more of on the mound.

In his final appearances of exhibition games, Liberatore brought conviction.

The 6-foot-4 lefty began generating more velocity, more consistently with his delivery, engaging his legs for more drive. He also became more consistent and aggressive with his fastball, elevating it and landing it for strikes.

That gave him a pitch at a vastly different velocity but at the same eye level of his dynamo curve, and suddenly he was unnerving hitters. When he unleashed the fastball with more determination it unlocked more of his game.

“It allows both to play vertical, and if you notice what he’s doing it’s real, and it’s not the same,” Marmol said. “I feel like we’re seeing a different guy, and then he’s carried that same conviction and overall pitch quality. That’s been a positive, big step for him, and it’s one we’ve all been waiting for.”

Acquired in the 2020 trade now famous for sending Randy Arozarena to the Rays, Liberatore has spent several years as the Cardinals’ top lefty prospect. He debuted in 2022 but did not find foothold. That could change this season, in the rotation or possibly bullpen.

“I think we’re going to see a different version of Libby,” Marmol said.



— Outfielder Jordan Walker matched a 111-year-old record with a 12-game hitting streak to start his career. He and Eddie Murphy of the 1912 Philadelphia Athletics are the only two players, age 20 or younger, to begin their career with 12-game hitting streaks. The 20-year-old Walker broke the Cardinals’ record to start a career at any age, surpassing Magneuris Sierra’s nine in 2017.

— Shortstop Masyn Winn used major league camp as a springboard into a higher assignment to start the season. The 21-year-old hit .333/.393/.556 and had the fourth-moat at-bats of camp. After splitting 2022 at High-A and Double-A, he went directly to Triple-A Memphis for Opening Day and was the priority shortstop for the Redbirds.

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