Solutions to St. Louis Cardinals Issues Are in Memphis

The St. Louis Cardinals had 10-7 bright spots and low moments early in the 2022 season. The early success of the Bullpen, the best running in the league, mostly stellar defense, and hot strikers like Nolan Arenado and Tommy Edman gave fans reasons to be excited about club.

The early struggles of players like Paul Goldschmidt, Yadier Molina and others as well as the elimination of different games gave the same reasons for fans to pluck their hair.

While most signs point to success this year, there are two glaring issues with specific points at this club: the shortstop and the role of the fifth starter.

On the Shortstop, Paul DeJong got off to a cold start on the ice, cutting 0.133/.235/.244 with 19 strokes in 51 board appearances. His 37% strike rate was a stark one, but it’s only becoming clearer as he only gets six strikes a year. At a smaller sample size, Edmundo Sosa did little to take on the job, cutting .211/.286/.211 with nine SO’s in 21 PA, with a surprisingly higher strike rate of 43%.

The Shortstop has been practically an automatic stop to get out and rally so far.

Although there are inconsistencies between Wainwright, Mikolas, Hudson, and Matz, the “Opener” experiment with Jordan Hicks has not yielded much results so far. In four games, including two starting games, Hicks has an ERA of 3.00 and a WHIP of 1.22 while only going through nine innings of action.

Hicks wasn’t bad by any means, but the Cardinals’ rotation as a whole ranks 10th lowest in baseball with just 79-2/3 innings in 17 games, averaging 4-2/3 innings to start.

Nolan Gorman and Matthew Liberator produce for Cardinals’ company Triple-A

Fortunately for the Cardinals, Nolan Gorman and Matthew Liberator are producing for Triple-A Memphis and ready to move on to the major leagues.

Gorman might be off to the best start in all of the minor leagues this year, cutting .349/ .397/ .833 with 10 home runs, 15 RBI, and 22 strikes while coming off a 4-5 performance as he deepened twice against Durham. The Cardinals’ second possibility is now ablaze, and he could be called up to St. Louis at any moment.

The main concerns associated with Gorman at the moment are offensive strikes and defense. His 30% strike rate is definitely a hole in his game, but if he’s producing an OPS over 1,200 you take that any day, especially when he’s replacing a player with a higher strike rate who has absolutely little production in DeJong.

Many of the top hitters in the leagues have a strike rate of 27-32% so far this season, and even if Gorman stays high in the big leagues, his ability to deal damage in the juniors cannot be retained. OPS would currently be second in baseball behind Trout, and even if that drops 0.400 points to 0.800, it will still be in the top 50 in baseball.

Gorman’s defense can’t be compared to Tommy Edman’s or even Paul Dejong’s, but the value his racket holds for this squad far outweighs any drop in this division. Tommy Edman can slip over a short pit stop on days when Gorman plays second base, and Cardinal’s best defense in the league will take only a slight hit.

This is not a case of a minor offensive upgrade to lower a massive defensive level. This is an opportunity to add a strong left-handed racket to the lineup that the Cardinals have to do.

As for Matthew Liberator, although his numbers aren’t as attractive as Gorman’s, he has proven he’s ready to take the next step and contribute to the big league club. Through four starts this year, it’s been 2-2 with an ERA of 4.22, 21 IP, 21K and 1.03 WHIP. On his most recent start for Memphis, the Liberatore went 7 rounds off, allowing only 2 hits and 9 hits.

The real cause for concern at the moment for the Liberatore is the number of home runs he has allowed, four already this season. Opponents have an OBP of just .274 against him and his K/9 at 11.39, both of which would rank among some of the best in the majors at the moment.

Matthew Liberator does not need to be an ace of cardinals. Providing high-quality roles for rotation will allow Hicks to return to one of the best-performing bulls in the league so far this year, and he’ll ideally get more roles from rotation to salvage some of those guns.

Between him and the other four spin-starters, the Bulls can make up for some in-between games when they come in.

The Cardinals will likely need to make some moves on the roster by trade as the season goes on, but Nolan Gorman and Matthew Liberator are already well-suited to meet some of the biggest needs at the moment.

It is not realistic to expect them to be world class players out of the gate, but they have proven that they have enough talent to produce at a level that would instantly elevate all areas of the ball club. It’s time for Gorman and Liberator to debut in St. Louis.

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