The Yankees are showing interest in right-hander with dazzling pitch mix

MLB: Toronto Blue Jays at New York Yankees
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Following a trade for Juan Soto that required departing with multiple reliable arms, the Yankees are going to need some pitching depth. They’re exploring the reliever market, as the team looks to add some much-needed bullpen depth to a unit that lost both Jhony Brito and Randy Vasquez, alongside Michael King. It was a price they had to pay, but as they look towards the future, they’ve shown interest in hard-throwing right-hander Jordan Hicks, who could fit their bullpen perfectly.

The 27-year-old sinkerballer spent his career with the Cardinals before being dealt to the Blue Jays at the deadline where his 2.63 ERA across 24 innings helped to catapult them to the postseason. A groundball pitcher with wicked stuff, Hicks could be the perfect match for this Yankee bullpen.

Yankees Looking to Bolster Bullpen Depth With Hard-Throwing Closer

MLB: Wildcard-Toronto Blue Jays at Minnesota Twins
Oct 3, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Toronto Blue Jays relief pitcher Jordan Hicks (12) pitches in the in the eighth inning against the Minnesota Twins during game one of the Wildcard series for the 2023 MLB playoffs at Target Field. Mandatory Credit: Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

One of the Yankees’ newfound issues following the Soto trade is that they need pitching, and this past season Hicks was one of the better relievers in baseball. Thanks to a dominant sinker-slider combination, he sported a 3.29 ERA and 126 Stuff+, and while command is an issue, his ability to generate contact on the ground is heavily enticing for the Yankees. Through his brief sample size of work, Hicks has a 60.4% career groundball rate, and that’s due to a sinker that averages 100.1 MPH with 15.8 inches of armside run.

This plays off of his sweeping slider, which generates 12 inches of sweep at 86.8 MPH, and is a buzzsaw pitch that batters swing-and-missed at a whopping 59.5% of the time. His third pitch is a four-seam fastball that gets 16 inches of carry at 100 MPH, and it’s a high whiff pitch that batters struggle to do any damage against, with a mere .236 wOBA on the season. He’ll mix in a hard gyro slider and a changeup, but the sweeper-sinker combination is what he’s known for, and those two pitches are why right-handed hitters struggle mightily against him.

He sported a sub .700 OPS against lefties as well, and that should allow him to work against any type of hitter, but there are some concerns here. First and foremost, Hicks has a massive injury history that’s limited him in years past, and while he’s remained healthy the last two seasons, from 2019-2021 he tossed under 40 innings. As long as the medicals check out, you should be able to rely on him for 60+ innings, but the Tommy John Surgery in his past still looms. Another comes in the form of command, as evidenced by a 11.2% walk rate this past season, although it hasn’t prevented him from being dominant.

yankees, Clay Holmes
Apr 12, 2023; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; New York Yankees relief pitcher Clay Holmes (35) throws a pitch during the ninth inning against the Cleveland Guardians at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

We’ve seen Clay Holmes suffer from similar command issues, but his career as a Yankee would suggest that it’s a profile worth buying on. The cost is a concern considering Jordan Hicks will be sought-after by a myriad of teams in need of bullpen help, but the Yankees have money to spend and holes to fill in that bullpen. Adding Hicks to that bullpen would give the Yankees a lights-out unit, although they’d likely need a left-handed option, which could come in the form of a Wandy Peralta reunion.

Their interest in Peralta, alongside their interest in Hicks, would suggest that the Yankees are looking to make an addition to their bullpen, and with Holmes, Loaisiga, and Kahnle all set to hit free agency after 2024, they could be preparing to see some key pieces in that unit depart.

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