Jordan Hicks threw two of the fastest pitches on record to the same batter.
The Cardinals seemed pretty pumped about it.
.@Jhicks007 touched 105 on the radar gun!
— St. Louis Cardinals (@Cardinals) May 20, 2018
In a five-pitch at-bat, the St. Louis rookie threw a pair of 105 mph sinkers, two more at 104, and one at 103.
Just one problem.
Though the Phillies‘ Odubel Herrera struck out, he still reached base because catcher Francisco Pena couldn’t handle two of those pitches.
The Historic Jordan Hicks vs Odubel Herrera AB (with Cardinals announcers and players in shock). pic.twitter.com/W6pH0xOavK
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) May 21, 2018
Still, Hicks worked around a pair of walks to get the last four outs in a 5-1 win.
Throwing hard is great. But there’s such a thing as throwing too hard, and the issue goes beyond the difficulty of blocking 105 mph sinkers.
Hicks’ extreme velocity makes him a worse pitcher.
His ERA is a tidy 2.05 now. But his FIP is a discouraging 4.91, which matches up with an unimpressive 1.318 WHIP through 22 innings.
As is often the case with fireballers, Hicks has serious control issues. He’s walked 6.5 batters per nine innings in the majors after giving free passes to four batters per nine innings in his brief minor league career.
And the worst part: Blessed with one of the most impressive cannons ever, Hicks has yet to turn that talent into strikeouts.
He’s striking out just 3.7 batters per nine innings, the second-lowest rate among pitchers with at least 20 frames under their belt. And the sinking heater has drawn just 20 swing-and-misses in 229 tries.
Hicks already throws from the stretch as Syndergaard does now, but he could also stand to turn the heat down just a few degrees for the ability to intentionally put the ball in a quadrant of the strike zone.
A decently placed 101 mph pitch is more effective than a 105 mph one with a mind of its own.