The Cardinals announced that they have selected the contract of right-hander Kyle Leahy, with left-hander Matthew Liberatore optioned in a corresponding move. The club already had a vacancy on their 40-man roster after outfielder Óscar Mercado was designated for assignment earlier in the week.
Leahy, 26, cracks a big league roster for the first time and will be making his major league debut as soon as he gets into a game. The righty was selected in the 17th round of the 2018 draft and worked primarily as a starter in the earlier portions of his professional career but has transitioned into more of a relief role of late.
He’s spent all of this year in Triple-A, tossing 51 innings over 28 outings, three of those being starts. He has a 4.06 ERA in that time, striking out 22.1% of batters faced against a 10% walk rate. He’ll now get to try his hand at getting outs at the major league level.
The option of Liberatore seems to open the door for lefty Steven Matz to return to the rotation, a possibility that was recently covered by Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Matz had a rotation spot to begin the year but posted a 5.72 ERA through 10 starts and got moved to the bullpen. Since making the switch, he has a 2.81 ERA while Liberatore has posted a 6.75 for the year.
The Cards signed Matz to a four-year, $44MM deal going into 2022 but haven’t received much return on that investment yet. A shoulder impingement and a torn left MCL limited him to just 48 innings last year with a 5.25 ERA, which was followed by the aforementioned rough start here in 2023. But his recent work has been encouraging enough to get him back into the rotation.
The Cards have very little rotation certainty going forward as Adam Wainwright is set to retire after this year while each of Jordan Montgomery and Jack Flaherty are impending free agents. That leaves Miles Mikolas and Matz as the core of next year’s rotation, with depth options like Liberatore and Dakota Hudson potentially in the mix. The club will undoubtedly pursue pitching at this year’s trade deadline and in the upcoming offseason but it would be a big help to them if Matz could get back on track in the second half of this year, with two seasons still remaining on that deal.