St. Louis Cardinals: Jordan Hicks slowly returning to form
After a 22-pitch plate appearance in which he allowed a walk to New York Mets Luis Guillorme, St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Jordan Hicks took the mound once again. This time, things went much more smoothly.
If not for his own fielding error, Hicks would have thrown a clean inning. But he induced three ground balls, including two back to the mound, while walking two and hitting one batter. While there is still work to be done, those who watched the outing noted how much crisper his pitches were with the velocity being in the 99-100 mph range.
The work for Hicks will continue on the mound as he looks to regain his pre-injury form, but other parts of his game need refinement. The error, where he bobbled a groundball to the mound and played it into an error, is something he will continue to work on in spring training drills with the other pitchers. It is something the Cardinals organization, specifically manager Mike Shildt, do not seem too worried about.
“It’s just getting back into competition,” Shildt said, via Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “A lot of soft contact. Getting the ball back to you, covering first — a lot of things you get out of spring training that he hasn’t done in some period of time.”
Hicks should continue to improve as he gets more time on the mound. But his return, along with the emergence of Alex Reyes, has suddenly out the back-end of the Cardinals’ bullpen in strong shape. It could not come at a better time for the team, who are in need of as many pitchers with the recent injury to Miles Mikolas and the increasing uncertainty surrounding the rotation.
But Hicks returning is the first big step for the Cardinals. As his most recent outing underscored, there is still work to be done. But the improvement from his first outing to his second is further reason for optimism.