(Busch Stadium) After being acquired in a trade a couple of days ago, Juan Nicasio finally made his St. Louis Cardinals debut and the reliever didn’t disappoint, retiring all four batters he faced to close out the 4-1 victory over Pittsburgh.
“That was a fun 9th inning,” stated Mike Matheny afterwards. “Not a whole lot going on, came right at them and got some quick outs. You see 98, you see hard cut in the low 90s–what’s there not to love about that. I think he’s going to be a good fit for us and try to figure out how to fit in the difference pieces.”
Speaking before the game, Nicasio made it clear that he was ready to take the ball if called upon to close out the game.
“Absolutely, that’s my job and that’s what I feel I was brought here to do,” stated Nicasio, through the team translator. “My main objective and what I like the most is competing.”
“They’re the most important outs of the game, I think. And the most emotional, most exciting. Yes, I like them.”
The appearance was the MLB-leading 68th of the season for Nicasio, who made his sixth appearance of four outs or more this year.
“He’s been around long enough and I know he’s been in that situation,” said Matheny of calling on Nicasio to close things out. “He knows what it’s like to pitch at the back end of the game. And I told him too, we’re not necessarily gonna–especially when Tyler is on, but Tyler was down today, but when we have Tyler ready to go we’re going to kind of mix and match and just be ready. I’ll try to give him an idea each day. Like today, I knew that we needed him to throw the 9th inning so he was prepared and he was prepared to get four outs, too. Just try to keep him involved in the conversation so he can get mentally prepared, but he wants the ball. Wants to be in there in big situations and we’re going to give it to him.”
“We talked and yes, he told me I could probably come in tonight being the first appearance,” said Nicasio, who earned his 3rd save of the season. “I was brought here to compete, I was brought here to win, and I’m happy I was able to help the team do that tonight.”
The 6’4, 255lb Nicasio also showed some defensive ability as he scrambled off the mound to his right and then made an off-balance throw to nab David Freese at first base.
“I saw that Carpenter was kind of playing behind third base and I decided it was going to be difficult for him, so let me just try to step in and I was able to complete it,” he explained.
Efficient with only 13 pitches in his 1.1 innings, Nicasio expects to be ready again tomorrow.
“It really all comes down to doing daily work,” he said. “Everyday, just work hard and try to stay healthy.”
“I’m ready every single day.”
photo credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports