Flamethrowing Hicks records fastest pitch of '22
ATLANTA – Earlier this season, when Cardinals reliever Ryan Helsley threw the fastest pitch in the Majors at the time -- 103.1 mph against the D-backs -- he figured it was just a matter of time until teammate Jordan Hicks eventually bested him.
That moment came in Thursday's 3-2 win over Atlanta in 11 innings at Truist Park, where Hicks blew a 103.8 mph power sinker by Braves slugger Marcell Ozuna, who was just able to foul the pitch off.
“There were one or two in that at-bat that I did,” Hicks said of trying to throw harder to Ozuna to record the out. “When I really rear back, sometimes I throw less [mph]. So I just wanted to locate that down-and-away pitch to him, and I did that.”
A relief pitcher for the first 2 1/2 seasons of his career, Hicks threw a 105 mph pitch in 2018 against the Phillies -- a pitch that was close to tying closer Aroldis Chapman’s 105.1 mph pitch against the Orioles in 2016, which is the fastest in MLB history during the Statcast era (since 2015). On May 31, 2019, Hicks nearly accomplished the feat again by throwing a 104.3 mph pitch on his final throw of the night.
Hicks said he likes having the cachet of having thrown the fastest pitch in three different MLB seasons, doing so in 2018, ‘19 and ‘22. He said, in his eyes, he has always had the fastest pitch title because no one has topped his 104.3 mph pitch from 2019 since he threw it.
“Nobody has beaten my last one, so I still kind of feel like I still had the title, in my eyes,” Hicks joked. “If you are going season by season, then I guess I have it three times. Aroldis has got the No. 1 even though we both went 105 [mph]. When I hit 106 someday, that’s when I’ll be able to claim the real title, but he’s still got it for now.”
Back in the bullpen after a starting stint and a month on the injured list with a forearm tendon strain, Hicks is once again throwing all out. In Saturday’s defeat of Philadelphia, Hicks threw 18 of his 28 pitches at more than 100 mph.
On Thursday against the Braves, Hicks struck out three batters and allowed just one hit in two innings of work. Of his 34 pitches, 27 were at 100 mph or more. He had the 24 fastest pitches in the game when he exited, with the top five registering at 103.8 mph, 103 mph, 102.9 mph, 102.8 mph and 102.7 mph, according to Statcast.
“I felt really good tonight,” said Hicks, who fell just short of his personal high of 29 pitches at 100 mph or better in a game. ”I felt really good on [Saturday against the Phillies], and I could have pitched the next day, but the extra couple of days off this time really helped with the arm feeling good tonight. But I don’t want to go that long [without] pitching again.”