A need to strengthen the end of their bullpen led the St. Louis Cardinals to Miami on Friday.
The Cardinals acquired veteran right-hander Steve Cishek, 29, from the Marlins for right-hander Kyle Barraclough, who was pitching at Class AA Springfield.
The 6-foot-6, 215-pound Cishek, a sidewinder, is 2-6 with a 4.50 ERA and three saves in 32 games. Cishek has a 0.71 ERA in 13 games since June 14, allowing one earned run in 12 2/3 innings.
Cishek (pronounced SEE-scheck) recorded a career-high 39 saves with the Marlins last season after posting 34 in 2013. He is 17-20 with a 2.86 ERA and 94 saves since breaking into the big leagues in 2010.
To make room for Cishek on the their 40-man roster, the Cardinals transferred right-handed reliever Matt Belisle to the 60-day disabled list. Belisle has elbow inflammation, but is expected to return this season.
Cishek will be in uniform at 6:15 p.m. Saturday when the Cardinals play host to Atlanta. He will wear No. 28. St. Louis will make a roster move before the game against the Braves.
Cishek seemed overjoyed to be traded to St. Louis. He was supplanted this season as the Marlins closer by A.J. Ramos, who has 16 saves and a 1.48 ERA in 43 games.
“I’m beyond excited to be a Cardinal,” Cishek said on his Twitter account. “Such a great organization with an amazing history. It’s going to be an honor to wear Cardinal red!”
Cardinals lefty specialist Randy Choate was a teammate of Cishek’s in 2011 and 2012.
“He’s a really good person,” Choate said. “Obviously, he’s done a lot of great things. He struggled a little bit earlier this year, but worked through it. He’s just a really solid person and I’m excited to have him. ... I just know he’s a hard worker. He’ll do anything for the team.”
Choate said Cishek “mixes up pitches well, from a funky arm angle.”
“When he’s got his fastball and his slider going, he’s really tough to hit,” Choate said. “I think he’s going to have that confidence here and I can’t wait to see him dominate.”
Cardinals General Manager John Mozeliak said Cishek’s versatility is one of his greatest assets.
“When you think about roles right now, the reason you have confidence in that deal is because he can go seventh, eighth or ninth (inning),” Mozeliak said. “When you think about currently how we’re winning games and how much pressure we’re putting on those relievers, just giving somebody a break makes sense.”
Cishek has a 2.92 ERA and four saves in 13 career games against the Cardinals.
“We’re happy to have him,” Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. “He’s a guy we’ve never enjoyed facing. I know he’s had the kind of season that’s been a little bit different. He fought through some things and he’s right back now to being the pitcher we’ve seen the last couple of seasons. He’s been very good and we’re excited to have him. I think he could step in and help us right away.”
Mozeliak said the Cardinals had been hopeful of upgrading a bullpen that has leaned heavily on Choate, Seth Maness, Kevin Siegrist and Trevor Rosenthal, all of whom have pitched in at least 45 games.
“You look at this club and how we’re put together right now and clearly there are things we can do to improve,” Mozeliak said. “And one of the places we felt we could focus on was the bullpen. When you look at what Steven brings and how he pitches, it just seems like it would be the right balance for what we would like to do. You look at his last month and he’s had a lot of success. We feel like the look and what he’s capable of doing can help us out.”
St. Louis also hopes to get Jordan Walden back in the next week and a half. Walden began a rehab assignment Thursday at Class AA Springfield and will pitch again Saturday.
“You put those types of arms (Cishek and Walden) in the bullpen, that’s going to take a lot of stress off of Rosenthal, Siegrist and Maness, who have been used quite a bit in the last three months,” Mozeliak said.
Barraclough, 25, a seventh-round pick in the 2012 draft out of St. Mary’s College in California, was 2-0 with a 3.28 ERA in 23 games with Springfield. He had eight saves in nine opportunities, with 20 walks and 28 strikeouts in 24 2/3 innings.
Cishek can’t be a free agent until the end of next season, so the Cardinals will control his contract this winter.
“It certainly doesn’t hurt, but that wasn’t necessarily the make or break of this decision,” Mozeliak said. “Trading somebody like Barraclough, who has a big arm and some upside, it’s not something that you want to do. But we just felt that given what we had and what the trade market looked like, it just made sense to get it done.”