Exit Interview 2017: Juan Nicasio

For the sixth straight year, we’re taking a look back at everyone that played for the St. Louis Cardinals this season.  Whether they were a major contributor or a bit player, here all year or for just a little while, we’ll look at their season and talk about what went right and what went wrong.  The stat line listed is just their time in St. Louis, though splits and other numbers in the discussion may be for the entire year.  Imagine this as them stopping by Mike Matheny‘s office for a little review on their way home for the winter.  As always when you see incredible artistry in the blogs, all credit for the header work goes to @cardinalsgifs.

Player: Juan Nicasio

Season stats: 2-0, 4 SV, 1.64 ERA, 9 games, 11 IP, 9 H, 2 BB, 11 K, 1.000 WHIP, 2.89 FIP, 0.4 bWAR

Hero/Goat: None

Overall grade: A

Positives: Came over in a rare September deal and immediately made an impact at the back end of the bullpen….racked up four saves in four opportunities after having two in six chances in Pittsburgh (and none during his stopover in Philadelphia)….struck out at least one batter in every appearance with the Cardinals except his first….four of his nine appearances were four outs or longer….on the season, limited lefties to a .208 average….batters hit .194 against him on the road….had an 0.64 ERA in May and a 1.29 ERA in July….with runners in scoring position, allowed a .203/.299/.305 line….did his best work with no rest (0.44 ERA, .171 BAA in 20.1 innings)….had a 2.09 ERA at night.

Negatives: All five home runs he allowed came in the second half….had a 6.10 ERA in June….batters had an OPS of .897 on the first pitch….they had a 1.063 OPS when the plate appearance ended with no strikes….three of the five home runs came with nobody out….high leverage was his worst line (.262/.321/.437)….had a 5.56 ERA overall in the ninth inning….interestingly, the Cardinals did a lot of damage against him, putting up a 1.089 OPS in six games against him.

Overview: There’s no doubt that Nicasio did wonders for the Cardinals, though it might have been a case of too little too late.  The club was still in the playoff race when he came over and he did nothing to hurt that, but you wonder if a couple more games might have been won had they gotten him a couple of weeks earlier.  (Plus we would have been spared that whole discussion about him not being eligible for the playoffs.)  I imagine they did try to get him, though apparently it was another NL Central team the Pirates didn’t want to send him to, which is how the Phillies got to be the middleman.

The problem is we are judging Nicasio mainly on 11 innings, the 11 innings we watched.  He had a good season overall and has had a solid career since leaving Colorado, so the small sample reflects the bigger one, but you still wonder a bit until he’s gotten more under his Cardinal belt.  After all, when one team lets a player go there’s usually a reason, though in this case it seems to have been all about the money.

Outlook: The Cardinals actually broached an extension with Nicasio before the season ended, which is more than they did for players like Lance Lynn.  Nicasio seemed open to it as well.  Even though the Cardinals are supposedly going after a big name closer, I would not be surprised if they don’t sign Nicasio quickly and have him as their backup plan.  After all, there’s a need for more than just one arm down there in the pen and this would allow Mike Matheny a little flexibility in his late inning choices, though that’s not always a good thing.

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