The St. Louis Cardinals announced today that flame-throwing right-hander Jordan Hicks has been diagnosed with a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow, effectively ending his 2019 season. The team says they are still determining the next course of action to his injury, but more than likely he will undergo Tommy John surgery. This is a devastating blow for the Cardinals, who currently stand at 40-37, good for third in the NL Central. Hicks exited Saturday’s game against the Angels after feeling discomfort in his right triceps, and was initially diagnosed with triceps tendinitis and passed tests after the game to check if the injury was in fact to his elbow.
Hicks, one of the games most exciting pitchers, has intrigued fans across the baseball world with his electric 100+ MPH sinker. According to Baseball Savant, his sinker averages out at 101.1 MPH this season, and in this season alone, has 206 pitches thrown over 100 MPH. The next highest on that list? Tayron Guerrero of the Miami Marlins with 99. He has become one of the games best relievers since his debut in 2018, and this injury not only makes a significant impact on this season for the Cardinals but also Hicks’ future.
This season, Hicks has recorded a 3.14 ERA in 14 saves as the Cardinals primary closer. Filling his spot in the closer role will be John Gant, who has had a breakout 2019 season, posting a 2.40 ERA, the lowest on the team, in 41.1 IP. The bullpen though for the Cardinals has been a huge question mark throughout the season. Andrew Miller, who signed on with the Redbirds in the offseason, hasn’t shown what he once was with the Yankees and later with the Indians. In just 26 IP, Miller has a 3-3 record with a 4.15 ERA, giving up a bullpen-high six home runs. Players like John Brebbia, Carlos Martinez, and rookie Giovanny Gallegos have done a nice job of filling the void in what has been a questionable pitching staff all season long for the Cardinals.
What does this mean for Jordan Hicks? With Tommy John being the most likely route for recovery, he will most certainly miss the rest of this season and may not see the mound again until after the All-Star break in 2020. We’ve seen this numerous amount of times before. Young, electric pitchers having their starts to their career cut short due to Tommy John surgery. Hicks is now the 4th young star pitcher in 9 months who has been diagnosed with a torn UCL, following the likes of Michael Kopech, Shohei Ohtani, and most recently, Lance McCullers Jr. of the Houston Astros. Along with the late Jose Fernandez, Stephen Strasburg, and Matt Harvey, Hicks joins a group of pitchers who’ve stood out with electric fastballs to have their season cut short to Tommy John.
As of now, the Cardinals currently stand two games back of the Cubs for the lead in the division, winning six of their last 10. It’s not a completely done deal yet for the Cardinals, as they could still very well likely get on a hot streak near the start of the 2nd half of the season. With Hicks now out of the picture for this season, it’ll be exciting to see who’ll step up big for St. Louis, and maybe produce some more of the annual Cardinals devil magic.