By now you’ve heard that the St. Louis Cardinals acquired Matt Liberatore from the Rays. You’ve also probably seen a bunch of articles analyzing what he can bring to a future Redbird rotation. So I won’t bore you with that.
If all this is news to you, here is the write up by John LaRue detailing the ins and outs of the deal.
With all that in mind, welcome to the film room. I’m not worried about numbers or rankings in this post, let’s dive into what the Cardinals have in their newest southpaw.
The thing that stands out in Liberatore’s arsenal is exactly what everyone says it is, which is his curveball. He does a good job spinning it early in the count, but he also shows the ability to tighten the spin for some sharper bite later in the count. I’m also willing to argue that he locates that pitch better than his fastball. This curveball is his bread and butter right now and should continue to be.
There will be a moment where the world discovers Liberatore’s changeup. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not his best pitch, but it’s a good one. He is able to be deceptive enough with it where it can create whiffs. In my eyes there is a world where his changeup becomes a plus pitch.
The slider is still fairly new, and I don’t think I truly had an angle to give any information about it. Luckily, Benjamin Chase from Prospects Live can cover that for me.
“Right now, he struggles to get consistent movement on the pitch, but when he really works it well, he can back foot a right-handed hitter with a sweeping slider that comes out looking like his fastball and then dives down toward that back foot.”
Finally, there is the fastball. This pitch can reach the mid-90’s, but he usually sits more in the lower-90’s according to the stadium radar gun. In each start I watched, this seemed to be the pitch that got hit hardest, but his other pitches do play well of it. There is more in this fastball than what is currently there. That will become more clear a little later.
The first thing I noticed, and I mean from the first pitch I watched, is that Liberatore does not get good extension with his lower half. I again owe a tip of the cap to the people at Prospects Live for the video of Liberatore’s delivery.
Adding extension will certainly help get more into his fastball. If he were to be able to find the right mechanical tweak to gain just a little more from his 6’5” frame without losing velocity then his fastball would almost certainly have a little more to it.
Outside of the extension, there isn’t much else fun to mention. Liberatore has repeatable mechanics, and it all seems pretty straight forward. It seems, at least from the angles I’m given, he does use his height and size well.
Liberatore does like to mess with timing. He doesn’t do the long back turn like Johnny Cueto, but there was a memorable three pitch sequence from the wind-up where he had almost no leg kick on pitch one, a regular one leg kick on pitch two, and he held his leg kick on pitch three.
Other Notes And Thoughts
Liberatore works quickly on the mound. It’s not uncommon for him to be standing ready while the batter isn’t even in the batters box. It makes for a fun watch. The St. Louis Cardinals have an extremely solid lefty prospect. I’m really excited to see if they can unlock some more extension, and to see how that changeup continues to develop.
There weren’t many bigger fans of Randy Arozarena than me, but I’m confident in saying that Liberatore alone was worth the price paid in that deal. The video doesn’t lie, and I hope my eyes aren’t lying to me, because Liberatore is a more than useful addition to the organization.