The St. Louis Cardinals are kind of like a living history museum.
There is Albert Pujols with his 683 career home runs and 3,316 hits. There is Yadier Molina with his nine Gold Gloves and 10 All-Star Game berth. And there is Adam Wainwright, who has 189 career wins and is still going strong at 40.
However, the Cardinals got a glimpse of what could be a large part of their future over the weekend when they swept a three-game series from the Pirates in Pittsburgh.
Second baseman Nolan Gorman made his major league debut Friday night and left-hander Matthew Liberatore followed suit the following evening. Gorman was rated as the 28thth-best prospect in the game by Baseball Prospectus entering the season and Liberatore was No. 43 in MLB.com’s rankings.
And get this: Gorman and Liberatore have known each other since they were 5 years old and played together on a team in a coach-pitch league in the Phoenix area.
The 22-year-olds were teammates at Triple-A Memphis before their promotions. After phoning their families to tell them about getting called to the big leagues, Gorman and Liberatore facetimed each other.
“Not a lot of words,” Liberatore said with a smile. “A lot of, kind of, blank stares and giggles almost, if you will. It was more disbelief that it happened the way it did. You really could not write it any better, so it’s pretty special to us.
“If you gave me a script and said this is what your life is going to look like 10 years from now 10 years ago, I would have said, ‘You’re crazy.'” This is the most unbelievable thing that happened to us so far. ”
Added Gorman: “It’s super cool, and for us, we always pushed each other when we were younger, and we decided we were going to go for this dream. We grew up 10 minutes apart from one another, so this is so cool. ”
Gorman’s first weekend in the major leagues went better than Liberatore’s. Gorman was 5 for 10 with a double in three games. That came following a strong performance at Memphis in which he batted .308 with 15 home runs in 34 games.
First-year Cardinals manager Oliver Marmol was impressed by his new second baseman’s acclimation but knew Gorman would not be.
“Here’s the thing with Gorman – he’s never satisfied,” Marmol said. “I like this kid.”
So far, Gorman has given the Cardinals the offensive boost it was looking for when it promoted him. With Gorman taking over at second base, Tommy Edman moves to shortstop after being the National League Gold Glove second baseman last season.
Paul DeJong, the Cardinals’ regular shortstop since 2017, was demoted to Memphis earlier this month after hitting a measly .130 with one homer in 24 games.
DeJong has a $ 6.1-million salary this season in the fifth year of a six-year, $ 26-million contract. The Cardinals still owe him at least $ 12.1 million beyond 2022.
The Cardinals are 23-18 and in second place in the NL Central, three games behind the Milwaukee Brewers. Despite DeJong’s struggles, the Cardinals are still scoring 4.88 runs a game, third in the major leagues.
Liberatore did not factor in the decision Saturday night as he allowed four runs in 4 2/3 innings. He looked good at times and bad at times, the inconsistency mirroring his 3-3 record and 3.83 ERA in seven starts at Memphis.
It turned out Liberatore was just up for a spot start to give the rest of the members of the rotation and extra day of rest as he was sent back to Memphis on Sunday. However, the Cardinals believe he can become a quality major league starter.
The Cardinals are 14th in MLB with a 3.70 ERA and will likely need better pitching to dethrone the Brewers atop the NL Central. Thus, Liberatore could be a factor later in the season.
“Command wasn’t great, but my nerves were all right,” Liberatore said of his debut. “I felt pretty comfortable out there, and at the end of the day, it’s the same game.”
Just like in coach pitch 17 years ago.