Posted on: July 31, 2023, 09:14h.
Last updated on: July 31, 2023, 10:58h.
The Toronto Blue Jays acquired flamethrowing reliever Jordan Hicks in a trade with the St. Louis Cardinals.
If the season ended today, the Blue Jays (59-47) would qualify for the playoffs as one of the three AL wild-card teams.
The Blue Jays needed a relief pitcher after they sent closer Jordan Romano to the injured list with back inflammation. The move also prevented other playoff hopefuls like the struggling New York Yankees from upgrading their pitching staff.
The Cardinals are big sellers at the trade deadline, and they unloaded the right-handed Hicks in exchange for a pair of pitching prospects Sem Robberse and Adam Kloffenstein.
Both Robberse and Kloffenstein were members of the Blue Jays’ Double-A affiliate, the New Hampshire Fisher Cats. Robberse is a top-10-rated prospect in Toronto’s farm system.
Hicks, 26, is in the final season of his contract and will become a free agent next season.
Blue Jays Snag Hard-Throwing Hicks
The right-handed Hicks can unleash a triple-digit fastball. Jhoan Duran from the Minnesota Twins is the only player who recorded a harder pitch than Hicks this season.
Hicks posted a deceiving 1-6 record for a last-place Cardinals team that won only 47 games this season. He struck out 59 batters in 41.2 innings. He allowed only two home runs this season and hasn’t given up a long ball since mid-April. In 40 relief appearances with the Cardinals, Hicks saved eight games and recorded six holds.
The Blue Jays already had a strong bullpen before the trade, but Hicks provides them additional firepower. Toronto’s bullpen is ranked #4 in the MLB with a 3.67 ERA. In 44 appearances, Romano saved 28 games with a 2.78 ERA and 1.119 WHIP.
Romano is expected to spend two weeks on the IL, which will give Hicks a chance to get acclimated to the team. When Roman returns, he’ll form a frightening one-two punch with Hicks for the Blue Jays down the stretch.
The Blue Jays are among several teams that are upgrading their rosters prior to the trade deadline. The Texas Rangers recently acquired Max Scherzer from the Mets, and the Los Angeles Dodgers added four players to help in their pursuit of a championship.
Betting the Blue Jays
The Blue Jays play in the toughest division in baseball this season and currently hold down third place in the AL East. With 59 victories, the Blue Jays would sit in first place or be fighting for first place in four other divisions this season.
The Blue Jays are 5.5 games out of first place behind the surging Baltimore Orioles (64-41), who moved 1.5 games ahead of the second-place Tampa Bay Rays (64-44). The Rays and Orioles are betting cofavorites to win the division at +130 odds. The Blue Jays are +475 odds to win the AL East.
The Blue Jays hold down one of three spots in the AL wild-card race with the Rays and defending champion Houston Astros. They have two AL East foes lingering on the playoff bubble, so every division game counts in the final stretch of the season. The Red Sox (2.5 games back), Yankees (3.5 games), Los Angeles Angels (4 games back), and Seattle Mariners (4.5 games back) are on the wild-card bubble.
According to a postseason projection by FanGraphs, the Blue Jays have a 6.2% chance to win the 2023 World Series, which is the fourth-highest percentage in the American League, and the sixth-highest overall.
The Blue Jays have a 77.6% chance to clinch a playoff berth, with a 15.5% chance to win the AL East outright and a 62% chance to qualify via the wild card.
The Blue Jays are +1400 odds to win the World Series. They’re the seventh-highest team on DraftKings’ MLB futures board.
The Blue Jays are +700 odds to win the AL pennant, which they haven’t done in 30 years. They won the pennant in back-to-back seasons in 1992 and 1993, the same seasons they won consecutive World Series championships.