This season didn’t go like most seasons. The Cardinals were terrible. I stopped writing here very much, with nothing after the blog anniversary. However, some things must go on and that includes the Exit Interview series! Now in its 12th year, it’s our look back at each player that made an appearance in a game for the St. Louis Cardinals. We’re approaching it a little different this season, a little more literary and a little less statistical, but hopefully you enjoy it just the same. As always, I am grateful that cardinalsgifs has agreed to use his talent for the header image!
Player: Jordan Hicks
Stats (Cardinals): 1-6, 8 SV, 40 G, 41.2 IP, 39 H, 2 HR, 24 BB, 59 K, 3.67 ERA, 2.99 FIP, 1.512 WHIP, 0.3 bWAR
Statcast (all): 5.4% barrel, 27.4% sweet spot, 109.7 max exit velocity, .296 wOBA, .282 xwOBA, 28.4% K, 11.2% BB
If you had said on May 5th that Hicks would not only be traded at the deadline but bring back two starting pitching prospects, most everyone would have laughed at you. On May 5th, Hicks came into a game against the Detroit Tigers with the Cardinals leading 3-2 in the top of the seventh. Four batters later, the game was tied after Hicks walked a batter, hit a batter, and allowed a double. Two batters later, he was removed from the game only to see Giovanny Gallegos allow both of his runners he left on to score.
That debacle left him with a 7.62 ERA in 13 innings. In those 13 innings, he’d walked 14 while allowing 17 hits. It was such a disaster that, with Hicks unwilling to go to the minors, the letters DFA were starting to get floated around. Given his command issues in the past, this looked like something that the Cardinals were going to have to move on from.
A funny thing happened on the way to the waiver wire, though: Hicks got good again. In fact, it might have been the best stretch of baseball we’ve seen out of him since he came up to the majors all the way back in 2018. Over the next 28.2 innings, from that game until the end of July, Hicks posted a 1.88 ERA. He allowed only eight hits. The walks didn’t completely stop–he still issued 10 free passes–but they lessened and the 37 strikeouts he put up mitigated them quite nicely.
It was crazy to think that Hicks was already in his last year before free agency. Missing half of 2019, all of 2020, and a good chunk of 2021 will do that to you, especially when it was coupled with how young he made his debut. With that time coming, though, the Cardinals would have been irresponsible to hold on to him and he was the first free agent out the door, heading to Toronto for Adam Kloffenstein and Sem Robberse. He hit a rough patch in his first and last games with the Blue Jays but the adjustments he made, including shifting where he stood on the rubber, seemed to hold north of the border as well.
The Hicks family was the royal family of Prospects After Dark and the fanbase. The reaction of said fanbase to Jordan’s early season struggles may have run Mama Hicks off of Twitter (she’s not put anything up since March, though she never tweeted a lot) and Papa Hicks hasn’t been on much more frequently. I am glad that Jordan didn’t get released, didn’t go out the way he looked the early part of the season. Who knows, maybe the entirety of the Hicks saga in Cardinal red hasn’t been written yet?
What’s in store for 2024: Hicks is going to be a very coveted arm on the free agent market. Just barely 27, a fastball that hits 102 regularly, and seemingly some new found command. He’ll get a good contract from someone, perhaps the Cardinals who are looking for such an arm, but it’s also true these kind of reunions don’t usually happen. Hopefully it’s not a National League team St. Louis will see often!