Lucas makes Majors debut for Cardinals

Reliever yields one run over two frames; righty Mayers optioned to Triple-A

August 19th, 2017

PITTSBURGH -- The Cardinals are trying another new arm in their bullpen, this time adding right-hander Josh Lucas to the roster on Saturday in place of , who was optioned back to Triple-A Memphis after the team's win on Friday.

Lucas had to be added onto the 40-man roster, which is now full, and he made his Major League debut in Saturday's 6-4 loss to Pittsburgh. In relief of starter , Lucas worked around two singles in a scoreless fifth inning before being stung by a solo homer in the sixth. It was the lone run he allowed while striking out two in the appearance.

The 26-year-old has been in the organization since the Cardinals took him in the 21st round of the 2010 MLB Draft.

"It's a dream come true," said Lucas, who will wear No. 77. "It's hard to explain really -- excitement, nerves, anxious. It's just a dream come true."

Lucas has spent the year in Memphis, where he had a 3.34 ERA, 1.165 WHIP and 14 saves in 43 appearances. Over 56 2/3 innings, Lucas struck out 65 and walked nine. He stood out in Spring Training, too, after participating in big league camp as a non-roster invitee.

"It looked like a guy that we're used to seeing from other clubs in the back end with an [arm] angle that's different than what they're seeing from the starters," manager Mike Matheny said. "[He has] heavy movement and good velocity, and he had a presence on the mound, too. He's another one of those guys who made an impression in the spring where we evaluated and said, 'I can see this guy helping us at some point.'"

Lucas' ability to offer the Cardinals length out of the 'pen -- 16 of his appearances have been for one-plus innings -- is something the club viewed as an asset. John Mozeliak, president of baseball operations, noted that Lucas was an ideal fit to add to the roster, too, since the organization was likely to do so later this year in order to protect Lucas in the Rule 5 Draft.

As for Mayers, he returns to Memphis after another forgettable one-day stint. He was knocked around for five runs (four earned) on four hits and a walk in two-thirds of an inning, raising his ERA to 19.80 in 10 career innings. Mayers has allowed five or more runs in three of his seven appearances, the first of which was a spot start in which he was rocked for nine in 1 1/3 innings.

"When you think back to his very first experience in the big leagues, that might be one of those types of scars that are tough to get over," Mozeliak said. "I hope it's not. But I imagine all of us had the same thoughts last night as we did a year ago."

Mozeliak noted that the organization will next take a closer look at why the success Mayers has had in Triple-A has not translated to similar effectiveness one level up. Mayers has a 1.89 ERA in 19 innings with Memphis since being moved into a full-time relief well.

"If the answer is that he's doing the same thing there that he's doing here, well, that means it's just not going to work," Mozeliak said. "When you look at the outing last night, there were a lot of [pitches in the middle of the zone]. And in this league, historically, no matter who you're playing will hit that.

"I just feel like having a strategy that's working for you in Memphis but is clearly not working here, you have to do something different."