The St. Louis Cardinals are going to be looking for a new closer as the trade deadline approaches. Jordan Hicks has a torn ulnar collateral ligament (UCL), the team announced Monday.
In a statement, the team said it “is determining the next course of action for Hicks.” A torn UCL doesn’t always immediately result in Tommy John surgery, though that is a possibility. Some players try to rehab before undergoing the procedure.
While that’s not always successful, some players have managed to pitch with a slightly torn UCL. New York Yankees starter Masahiro Tanaka has put up solid numbers with a UCL tear for a few seasons now. Ervin Santana has avoided Tommy John surgery despite a sprained UCL in 2009.
The rehab process for Hicks could differ, however, since Hicks is known for his velocity. Hicks is armed with a fastball that has touched 105 mph on radar guns. While that’s actually not a pitch he uses to get whiffs, it’s still a part of his toolbox on the mound.
If Hicks is unable to get that weapon fully back while rehabbing, it could impact his numbers. In 28 2/3 innings, the 22-year-old Hicks has a 3.14 ERA. He’s saved 14 games for the Cardinals in 2019.
If Hicks has to undergo Tommy John surgery, the Cardinals would lose him for all of this season, and likely half of 2020.
The injury comes as a surprise considering Hicks last pitched Saturday, and there was no indication anything was wrong. He still managed to hit 102.1 mph with his sinker in that appearance.
With Hicks sidelined, the team has a few options to replace him. John Gant and Giovanny Gallegos have both put up excellent numbers this season. The team also has Carlos Martinez and Andrew Miller.
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