Cards, Rays can relive famed trade in series finale

Cards, Rays can relive famed trade in series finale

When the Tampa Bay Rays acquired Randy Arozarena from the St. Louis Cardinals before the 2020 season, many questioned the decision because top left-handed pitching prospect Matthew Liberatore was part of the deal

Few are second guessing the trade now, as Arozarena is an All-Star and Liberatore is trying to establish himself at the big-league level

On Thursday, Arozarena and Liberatore will have an opportunity to face each other when the Cardinals conclude their three-game interleague series with the Rays in St. Petersburg, Fla

The Cardinals held off the Rays 6-4 on Wednesday night, setting up the rubber match

“Good for (Liberatore) that he made it to the major leagues,” Arozarena said through an interpreter to the Tampa Bay Times. “I’m going to try and stay as positive as I can, and hopefully hit a home run or get some hits off him.

Liberatore is 1-4 with a 6.93 ERA in 10 appearances this season with nine starts. The 23-year-old has thrown 37 2/3 innings with the Cardinals in 2023, in addition to his 58 innings over 11 starts at Triple-A Memphis (where he was 4-2 with a 3.72 ERA)

The Cardinals are trying to be patient with their young southpaw

“Put yourself in Libby’s shoes,” Cardinals manager Oliver Marmol said recently. “You’re pitching for your life every time you’re up here, right? It’s like, ‘If I do well, maybe I get another start. If I don’t, maybe I’m going back to Triple-A.’

The pitching situation is different for the Rays, who are looking for healthy starting candidates

Tampa Bay will send right-hander Zack Littell (2-2, 4.04) to the mound in the series finale

Due to injuries to the rotation, Littell will be leaned on more heavily moving forward

The Rays are dealing with the news that All-Star left-hander Shane McClanahan (forearm) is likely to miss the remainder of the season. In addition, Tyler Glasnow is dealing with back spasms (though he is expected to rejoin the rotation on Saturday against the Cleveland Guardians)

That leaves Tampa Bay with Zach Eflin and Aaron Civale, who was acquired at the trade deadline, as perhaps their most dependable starters right now

Littell, a reliever most of his career, now factors into the rotation mix. Still, building up innings will be a work in progress for the 27-year-old, who will be making just his 10th start in his 164th career appearance

“When we traded for (Civale), and I was told I was going to stay in the rotation, it was a ton of confidence,” Littell told

Littell has experience facing the Cardinals but has struggled. He is 0-1 with an 8.68 ERA in 9 1/3 innings spanning eight relief appearances against St. Louis in his career

The longest outing for Littell this year is six innings, though it was last Friday in Detroit in an 8-0 win

Another way the Rays plan to navigate through their rotation rough spot is by taking advantage of off days. They way they’re spaced, Rays manager Kevin Cash said the club could go with a four-man rotation for the short term

This will be Littell’s sixth start of this season, with most of the early ones being either bullpen days or as an opener. In either role, the right-hander has impressed

“How can we not be as encouraged as possible with what he’s done,” Cash said

–Field Level Medi

Original source here

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About the Author

Anthony Barnett
Anthony is the author of the Science & Technology section of ANH.