Video proof of just how nasty a healthy Jordan Hicks is for the St. Louis Cardinals bullpen. But can they count on him in 2022?
When it comes to the St. Louis Cardinals’ bullpen, it seems like the discussion is based on one of two things: 1) Alex Reyes bouncing back and becoming the dominant reliever he was in the first half of 2021 or 2) adding one or two high-leverage relievers such as Joe Kelly or Ryan Tepera.
But what about Jordan Hicks? Watch this one minute and 24 second video from Pitching Ninja on Hicks overpowering hitters with 104+ mph pitches with nasty movement. If he locates his pitches, it’s borderline impossible to hit.
Filthy. Nasty. Insert any similar adjective. There are not many pitchers who are capable of doing this.
Part of Hicks’ problem has been locating pitches. But the biggest problem that has prevented him from maximizing his potential is staying healthy, as he underwent Tommy John surgery a couple years ago and when he tried to come back earlier this season, suffered a setback and received an injection in his right elbow.
The Cardinals have been cautious with Hicks, and rightfully so, but he can single handedly change their bullpen if he stays healthy. There has been talk about implementing him into the rotation, but that is not going to happen. He has only thrown 38.2 combined innings since 2019 and if anything, he will start the season in a low-leverage relief role and try to work his way into more meaningful innings.
The Cardinals are hopeful that Hicks will remain healthy in 2022, but his presence should not prevent them from pursuing and signing Kelly or Tepera. Quite simply, Hicks has not proven that the Cardinals can count on him. But if he does return, and pitches like he did in the video, that completely changes their bullpen outlook – and why the team is so intent on making sure he’s 100 percent healthy before stepping on a mound again.