Scouting report on new Blue Jays pitcher Jordan Hicks

We get to know more about Jordan Hicks and what he can provide for the Toronto Blue Jays, after acquiring him in a trade with the St. Louis Cardinals.
iJul 24, 2023; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; St. Louis Cardinals relief pitcher Jordan Hicks (12) pitches
iJul 24, 2023; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; St. Louis Cardinals relief pitcher Jordan Hicks (12) pitches / Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

The Blue Jays have shown their hand to the fans, that they are genuinely attempting to improve the roster ahead of Tuesday's deadline. As confirmed by Eric Treuden, the team has acquired Jordan Hicks from the Cardinals.

The return package includes right-handed pitchers Adam Kloffenstein and Sem Robberse. The Blue Jays clearly see this as worth it, for bringing in one of the best available relievers on the trade market.

The fact Hicks was even available, was only because contract extension negotiations had broken down in St. Louis. However, the Cardinals' loss is the Blue Jays' gain, as he provides a much-needed boost to their bullpen.

Excellent cover for Romano

Of course, there is the question of what exactly the 26-year-old brings to Toronto? For a start, he will more than likely step in as closer, in place of the injured Jordan Romano.

Hicks has eight saves in 11 opportunities this season -- eight of nine since officially taking over as the Cardinals' main closer -- and 28 overall in 40 opportunities during his time in the Majors. (The majority of his blown saves came during his rookie year in 2018.) Once Romano returns, they will combine to provide some much-needed stability and a strong one-two punch late on in games.

For 2023 as a whole, the Houston, Texas native has a 3.67 ERA, 3.02 FIP and 1.512 WHIP in 40 appearances (41.2 innings). What's extremely encouraging for the Blue Jays though, is that he's improved as the season has progressed.

Consider that since the start of May, Hicks has a 2.67 ERA, 2.39 FIP and 1.250 WHIP. More recently still, he has a 2.16 ERA for July - his lowest ERA for any month this season.

Four quality pitches

In terms of the weapons at the disposal of the righty, he is renowned for being one of the hardest throwing pitchers in baseball. (He has actually reached as high as 105 mph.) This includes a ferocious fastball and an outstanding curveball.

However, Hicks also possesses a strong changeup and an above average slider. When he's on his game, he's almost unstoppable.

In this respect, the 2015 third round draft pick has dealt with plenty of obstacles along the way. This includes Tommy John surgery in 2019, which has contributed towards him not yet reaching his full potential.

More confident than ever

Hicks finally seems to be over his injury challenges though, and it's showing on the mound. He's throwing with more confidence and has better command of his pitches.

This doesn't mean the former Astros fans doesn't still have some location issues, as evidenced by a 12.7 percent walk-rate on the year. However, he's also on course for the best strikeout rate of his Major League career, which is currently an outstanding 31.2 percent.

Hicks has an excellent groundball percentage of 58.3. He has allowed just two home runs on the season, with both coming back in April.

There will be critics who say the return package was too much for someone who could effectively by just a two-month rental. Overall though, Hicks was worth the gamble and should pay dividends, at least in the short term.