Prospect Liberatore makes Busch debut as Cardinals crave more consistent starts from rotation

Derrick Goold

There is a breakpoint for aspiring contenders when their rotation does not provide enough innings day after day, game after game that surviving one series could cost them the next and create a tumble in the standings.

And then there is what follows — a breaking point for any bullpen.

As the Cardinals pilot through the weekend without an announced starter for Monday’s afternoon holiday game against San Diego, one of the reasons is the cascade of short starts that has tested the Cardinals’ bullpen and put them close to repeating last year’s June swoon. The Cardinals have Jake Woodford available for Monday’s start … until he isn’t because they need to him to cover innings this weekend in replace of a starter.

In eight of the Cardinals’ previous 10 games, the starter has thrown five or fewer innings.

In his office Saturday morning, Cardinals manager Oliver Marmol agreed that five innings, five times over through a rotation puts too much strain on a bullpen to cover the rest.

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“We need more innings from our starters,” he said.

In the past week, the Cardinals’ bullpen has thrown all nine innings of a starter Steven Matz had to leave with a sore shoulder. The bullpen coverage six innings in a start by Jordan Hicks, and on Friday night against the Brewers, the Cardinals turned to the bullpen to cover 4 1/3 innings, using a long reliever,…

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