Cardinals place Liberatore on IL with lower back tightness

St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Matthew Liberatore (52) is removed by manager Oliver...
St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Matthew Liberatore (52) is removed by manager Oliver Marmol, left, during the sixth inning of a baseball game against the Milwaukee Brewers Wednesday, May 17, 2023, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)(Jeff Roberson | AP)
Published: Aug. 22, 2023 at 3:02 PM CDT
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ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV) - After initially expecting Matthew Liberatore to be delayed by only a couple of days due to back tightness, the Cardinals placed the left-handed starter on the injured list Tuesday, extending a recent stretch of unfortunate injury trends for the team.

Liberatore told reporters Sunday that his back had tightened up on him after lifting weights earlier in the week. The Cardinals called upon Drew Rom to make his MLB debut and take Liberatore’s turn in the rotation Monday, but manager Oli Marmol had expressed his belief over the weekend that Liberatore would be cleared to return to take the ball on Wednesday afternoon in Pittsburgh.

Liberatore had anticipated that he would throw a bullpen session Monday. Whether that session took place or not, the Cardinals clearly were not at a place in his recovery process where they felt he would be able to contribute again in the near future. Liberatore’s stint on the IL is retroactive to August 19, but he will still miss a couple more turns through the rotation before he is eligible to return.

After a start in Tampa on August 10 in which Liberatore looked as good as the Cardinals have ever seen him across eight scoreless innings, the 23-year-old lefty regressed in his next start. Facing Oakland on August 16, Liberatore allowed five earned runs on 10 hits and saw a dip in his fastball velocity compared to that prior outing against the Rays. The inconsistency in Liberatore’s velocity has been a recurring challenge this season as the former first-round pick has attempted to stake his claim to a long-term role in St. Louis.

To take Liberatore’s place on the active roster, the Cardinals selected right-hander Jacob Barnes from Triple-A Memphis. Barnes is a 33-year-old veteran with a 4.70 ERA across 249 MLB innings in his career. He’s logged a 2.47 ERA in 51 innings in Triple-A across three different organizations this season.