The St. Louis Cardinals have been without fireballer Jordan Hicks for the majority of the season and may have to wait until next year to get him back.
The initial belief is that St. Louis Cardinals right-hander Jordan Hicks would return sometime in August from a right elbow injury. But that timeline may be delayed, with manager Mike Shildt giving an ominous update on Hicks, via Zachary Silver of MLB.com, saying that it “remains to be seen” whether Hicks will return this season.
Hicks started playing light catch recently, though the Cardinals said that he was not close to throwing off a mound or resuming full baseball activities. The plan has always been to take it slow with Hicks, especially after he received an injection in his elbow in May, but after this update from Shildt, it’s fair to wonder if Hicks suffered a setback in his recovery.
Still, the Cardinals will wait to see how Hicks’ arm responds to the slow ramp-up from the injection. But they would be smart to wait until he’s 100 percent healthy from the elbow injury, considering that he underwent Tommy John surgery in 2019 and opted out of the 2020 season, with his arm having limited innings in the last three years.
But not having Hicks, 24, at the back end of the bullpen would be a huge blow for the Cardinals and put more strain on a unit that has had to eat significant innings after the rotation has crumbled with injuries to Jack Flaherty, Miles Mikolas and Carlos Martinez. It would behoove the Cardinals to not just explore upgrades in the rotation, but the bullpen as well, as they look to not put too much stress on relievers such as Alex Reyes, who entered the season with an extensive injury history.
They would not be alone in looking for bullpen help, however, as seemingly every contending team is on the lookout for relievers. It’s not likely they would look for a closer — Reyes has taken firm hold of that job — but adding a high-end eighth-inning arm would make a lot of sense, with there being no shortage of options available before July 30.
The door is not yet closed on Hicks returning this season. But if Shildt’s latest update is any indication, the Cardinals should not hold their breath on him coming back, marking yet another blow to a roster that has been decimated by injuries.