Hicks (3-1) earned the win Tuesday over the Phillies, striking out two and allowing one hit across 1.1 scoreless innings. He did not walk a batter.
Hicks entered in the eighth inning with two outs and runners on first and second with a chance to secure his second save of the season, but gave up a two-run double to Rhys Hoskins to tie the game. Matt Carpenter gave the Cardinals back the lead in the top of the ninth with a solo home run, allowing Hicks picked up the win with a clean frame. The flame-throwing right-hander now has a 2.13 ERA and 1.08 WHIP with 31 strikeouts over 38 innings this season, but does have 15 strikeouts across nine innings thus far in June.
Hicks, who fired two perfect innings in which he racked up four strikeouts during Tuesday's loss to the Padres, now sports a 19:3 K:BB over his last 10 appearances.
The 21-year-old phenom also sports an unblemished ERA through five June outings while recording multiple punchouts in four of them. The assumption that Hicks' triple-digit fastball and sinker would automatically lead to an eye-popping amount of missed bats remained largely unfounded until late May, when he began incorporating more off-speed stuff into his repertoire with the aid of pitching coach Mike Maddux. The returns on that experiment continue to be stellar, and with bullpen mate Luke Gregerson now expected to miss another 4-to-6 weeks following arthroscopic knee surgery, Hicks should continue seeing a steady workload for the foreseeable future.
Hicks was credited with his first career save in Saturday's win over the Reds, allowing a hit but recording three strikeouts.
In the latter stages of May, Hicks began working with pitching coach Mike Maddux on refining his slider in an attempt to boost his strikeout rate. The initiative has been a rousing success, with Hicks now having recorded 15 of his 24 punchouts on the season since May 23, a span of nine appearances. Eight of those whiffs have come over his first four June outings, a span during which the phenom has notched two holds and Saturday's save.
Hicks fired two perfect innings in a win over the Brewers on Tuesday, recording four strikeouts.
Approximately one week ago, Hicks expressed a commitment to incorporating more off-speed pitches into his repertoire, partly in an attempt to get more swing-and-misses and make his triple-digit fastball and sinker even more effective. He's subsequently recorded seven strikeouts over the 5.2 innings covering his last four appearances, with three of Tuesday's punchouts coming courtesy of the slider he's actively trying to deploy more often, Joe Trezza of MLB.com reports.
Hicks, who recorded two strikeouts over a scoreless eighth inning in an extra-inning loss to the Royals on Wednesday, intentionally focused on deploying his slider -- as opposed to his triple-digit sinker -- during the outing, Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. "That's my go-to strikeout pitch (and) it hasn't been there lately," Hicks said. "I'm not going to go out there and overthrow for 106 or something that's not going to happen. If I get a little extra and I feel like it, I'm going to go get it. If I don't, I won't."
Hicks had set the baseball world abuzz last Sunday by hitting 105 mph on the radar gun twice with his sinker in an encounter against the Phillies' Odubel Herrera. However, despite the considerable firepower residing in his right arm, Hicks hadn't recorded multiple strikeouts in an outing since April 10 prior to Wednesday, and his current 4.3 K/9 ranks him 248th among 253 pitchers who've thrown at least 20 innings this season. While those numbers may not make sense on the surface given Hicks' velocity, Goold explains that the sinker's action moves the ball to the end of the bat, prompting more frequent contact. Consequently, pitching coach Mike Maddux has been working with Hicks on honing a pair of breaking pitches that top out in the mid-80s, in an effort to boost his strikeout rate. The results were evident against the Royals, as both of Hicks' punchouts came on the slider, and neither offering exceeded 85 mph.
|6/24/2018 vs Milwaukee|
|Last 7 Games|
|Complete Game Log|
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|More Pitching Stats|
|Minor League Pitching Stats|
|2016||ASX-State College Spikes||4||1||1.76||6||6||0||0||0||30.2||25||8||6||0||2||16||22|
|2016||R-Johnson City Cardina||2||1||4.20||6||6||0||0||0||30.0||33||20||14||1||5||13||20|
|2017||AFA-Palm Beach Cardinals||0||1||1.00||8||5||0||0||1||27.0||21||3||3||0||2||6||32|