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Strikeouts are climbing: A Jordan Hicks update - A Hunt and Peck

I have been dutifully tracking Jordan Hicks. Here is an update.

MLB: Cincinnati Reds at St. Louis Cardinals Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

A little over a week ago we looked into the results of Jordan Hicks, the Cardinals rookie reliever breaking records with his impressive fastball. Despite throwing some of the fastest pitches on record, Hicks just was not missing bats. It was curious. That curiosity drove this writer to pledge to track Hicks throughout the season. Maybe we will find something significant. Maybe this is just another example of baseball weirdness. There is only one way to find out: TO THE DATA!

As you can see, strikeouts seem to be trending up. This comes after reports from Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post Dispatch of Hicks working with pitching coach Mike Maddux on some strikeout pitches. Per Goold:

To improve his whiff rate, pitching coach Mike Maddux said, they’re working on two breaking pitches.

“A bigger one and a smaller one,” he said. “One at 81, and another at 85...”

... Hicks has also been working on a four-seam fastball to elevate on 0-2 counts.

That’s an area where strikeouts can be found.

“They’re coming,” he said. “I think they’re coming.”

Looking at Fangraphs graphs for Hicks shows some changes in his pitching approach.

Fangraphs

And his results have changed, too, as hitters seem to be swinging and missing more often.

Fangraphs

Will these tweaks make Jordan Hicks a strikeout machine? Well, it has only been a week since these changes were implemented. It is way too early to draw conclusions based on these subtle trends, but the early results look like they could be promising. Only time will tell and as that time pass, I will diligently monitor it.

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