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Jordan Hicks Return from Tommy John Surgery

Jordan Hicks

It’s been nearly a year since the powerful St. Louis Cardinals closer Jordan Hicks season ended early due to Tommy John surgery. Late last June, the right-hander exited a game against the Los Angeles Angels injured. After a few days and an MRI, it was announced that he had a torn UCL in his right elbow. After evaluating all options, he went forward with the surgery. The expected recovery time for Hicks was 12-13 months… and that lands us in the present day.

Jordan Hicks Over the Years

Hicks has been a key component for the Cardinals bullpen ever since he made his major league debut in March of 2018. When he came to the big leagues, his fastball velocity was all the talk. In May of 2018, he set an MLB record with a 105.1 mph pitch. At only 21 years old, it was apparent to the Cardinals organization, and all of baseball, that Jordan Hicks was someone to watch over the years. In his first season, 2018, Hicks pitched in 73 games and 77.2 innings pitched. He recorded a 3-4 record for his debut season with 6 saves. This flame thrower struck out 70 compared to his 45 walks. The Cardinals staff and fan base were giddy to see just what Hicks would accomplish in his first full major league season.

Hicks made the first few months of the 2019 season exciting until he joined the group of pitchers who would undergo Tommy John surgery in their pitching career. While only playing 29 games, he went 2-2 with a 3.14 ERA (compared to his 3.59 2018 ERA). He also recorded 14 saves. This is a little more than double of what he recorded in 2018, despite playing roughly 2.5 more games in 2018. Hicks progressed along so many lines from 2018 to 2019; his K/9 went from 8.11 to 9.73.

Over his short time in the majors so far, Hicks had relied on four main pitches: sinker, slider, changeup, and four-seamer. Hicks’ most favored pitch, the sinker, averages 101.5 mph. The sinker results in a 67.2% ground ball rate in 2019. In 2019, his slider averaged 101.1 mph, 0.6 mph faster than it averaged in 2018. Between his two seasons, his pitch velocities have either increased or stayed the same. Hicks is already towards the top of the leader board for velocity, despite being in the majors for only two seasons.

Returning from Tommy John Surgery

Over the past year, Jordan Hicks has been participating in an extensive rehab process to ensure his healthy return. He was projected to miss at least half of the 2020 season. At the rate things are going, Hicks may be a key component for most of the 2020 season. There has been no definitive answer as to when Hicks will return, but the president of baseball operations, John Mozeliak, is confident that Hicks will be a part of the season. Due to Hicks not pitching in the MLB environment for almost a year, he is not expected to fall right back into his closer position. Jordan Hicks has been working hard for whatever type of return that he makes. From Spring Training forward, Hicks has shown his pitching progression. In early May, he threw two 20-pitch sets. This was a step in the right direction according to his rehab program.

Jordan Hicks is projected to be arbitration-eligible for the 2021 season. He has a lot on his plate as he is navigating an unprecedented season and recovering from a career pivotal injury. There is high hope that Jordan Hicks is able to return to the same status that he left as. Everyone is baseball is excited to see this “flamethrower” back in action on the mound.   

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