The St. Louis Cardinals will be without Jordan Hicks in 2020 after his decision to opt-out. Who has the best chance to step up and fill his roster spot?
While it’s completely understandable why Jordan Hicks decided to opt out of the 2020 St. Louis Cardinals season, it doesn’t mean that we can’t miss him and wish the circumstances were better.
Either way, taking Hicks off out of roster considerations opens up the door for others to jump in.
While Hicks was a question mark in the first place, he certainly would’ve made the roster at some point when the organization deemed him healthy enough.
In my 30-man roster prediction, I didn’t include Jordan Hicks as one of the original options for the bullpen based on the information that the team had put out about him and how he wasn’t going to be ready at the start of the season. I would expect that the fringe guys Junior Fernandez, Alex Reyes, and Austin Gomber are still the ones to make the roster.
A roster spot isn’t the only thing the Cardinals will have to fill without Hicks for the entirety of 2020. They need someone to step up and fill the innings that Hicks likely could’ve stepped back into.
To assume Hicks would jump back into that 9th inning role would’ve been wrong. However, he could’ve easily jumped into a 7th or 8th inning role. In his absence, the biggest guys I am looking at to step up are Daniel Ponce de Leon and Junior Fernandez.
Both Ponce and Fernandez filled relatively minor roles in 2019, will the two of them combining for just around 60 MLB innings, even though those innings were encouraging.
Another name not many people are talking about: Tyler Webb.
An easy guy to be the butt of many jokes, Webb was excellent at getting weak contact last season. His 3.76 ERA and 4.49 FIP are solid, but he ranked in the 92nd percentile in both Exit Velocity and Hard Hit percentage.
Webb’s raw stuff may not be that impressive but in 2019 he really used it well. The .184 BABIP is a little concerning, but Webb more than earned a chance at some higher-leverage innings in 2020.
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If Giovanny Gallegos and Alex Reyes face any more delays or if Brett Cecil starts on the shelf, that’s when guys like Kodi Whitley, Genesis Cabrera, and Johan Oviedo will be needed to fill their spots. Ideally, you don’t have to count on this many young guys right off the bat, but as we all see, 2020 doesn’t want to make anything easy.
One of the other big questions that Hicks opting out brings is about who will close, but that’s an argument for a different article.
You also have to wonder if the potential of losing more than just Hicks from the bullpen will have any weight in the Cardinals entertaining keeping Carlos Martinez in the bullpen for 2020.
We certainly can’t blame Jordan Hicks for making the choice he did, but we will certainly miss the guy for this year. The Cardinals have plenty of intriguing options to jump into the ring for Hicks’ innings, it’ll all come down to who steps up.