On Monday afternoon, the Cardinals announced news that we definitely weren’t ready to hear. After exiting Saturday’s ballgame with an apparent injury, Jordan Hicks was said to be unavailable for a few days with right triceps tendinitis. Well, as things shaped out.. it’s a little worse than that.
Hicks was diagnosed with a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his elbow, and the Cardinals are determining the best course of treatment for the 22-year-old. It seems that Tommy John surgery is likely, though that has not been confirmed as the plan as of Tuesday morning.
Hicks has successfully converted 14 saves in 15 opportunities this season, his first serving as St. Louis’s closer. Hicks has 31 strikeouts and 11 walks in 28 2⁄3 innings across 29 appearances, equating to 9.73 K/9 and 3.45 BB/9 rates that are notably better than his rookie season. Hicks has a 3.18 FIP this season and has allowed just one run over his last seven appearances.
Not only was Hicks becoming a fan-favorite in St. Louis; the reliever with just over 100 innings of work in the Majors is the fastest-throwing pitcher in the game. Hicks threw a pitch that clocked in at 104.3 MPH and has thrown four pitches of at least 104 MPH this year. In fact, Hicks is the only pitcher to have topped the 103 MPH mark - and he has done that many times.
Carlos Martinez seems like the best option to take over the team’s closer role at this point. Martinez has allowed just five runs in 13 appearances this season. Martinez has walked just one batter in June, and batters are hitting just .212 off the right-hander this year. Though Martinez might be the ‘logical’ choice to us, it’s tough to say what Cardinals manager Mike Shildt will ultimately decide to do. John Gant is an interesting option, and Shildt may tool with him or Andrew Miller to work ninth innings. A closer by committee approach very well may be in play.
If the Cardinals decide to go out of house to fill their new bullpen void, former Mets closer Addison Reed is still available, as is 2018 Cardinal Bud Norris. Speaking of former Cardinals, Trevor Rosenthal was released by the Nationals over the weekend, and Marc Rzepczynski remains unsigned.