Andy McCullough: Clawing for a foothold in the American League East as always, the Blue Jays did not wait long to improve their bullpen after closer Jordan Romano landed on the injured list with a back issue. To plug the gap, the team acquired Hicks, the proverbial fireman with an unsteady hose. He flings 101 mph fastballs, which don’t always end up where he intends.
Hicks is having his best season since 2019, but he still has some reliever-centric warts. Specifically, he walks a lot of guys, 5.2 per nine innings — among the 282 pitchers who have thrown 40 innings this season, Hicks’ walk rate ranks 271st. But his mark of 12.7 strikeouts per nine rates 12th-best. (So he is the 12th best at strikeouts and the 12th worst at walks, if you’re interested in coincidences or kismet.)
John Mozeliak declared the Cardinals would target pitching at the deadline, and so that process has begun. Kloffenstein, a 6-foot-5, 243-pound Texan, has rebounded from a miserable season with Double-A New Hampshire, repeating the level with a 3.24 ERA and 10.6 strikeouts per nine. He turns 23 in a few weeks. Robberse, a fellow from the Netherlands who appeared in this summer’s Futures Game, won’t turn 22 until October.
It’s the first step in restocking a cupboard of arms for the Cardinals as they also traded lefty Jordan Montgomery, along with reliever Chris Stratton, to the Rangers on Sunday, flipping their pending free agents for pitchers Tekoah Roby and John King, and infielder Thomas Saggese.
Blue Jays: B
Rustin Dodd: The Cardinals did the only thing that made sense, sending Hicks, a pending free agent and rental free agent, to the Blue Jays before Tuesday’s deadline. Hicks was one of the biggest arms available at the deadline, though he’s not been the most effective. He had a lot of interest, however, and he can improve the Blue Jays’ bullpen.
The Cardinals will welcome pitchers Kloffenstein and Robberse to the system and hope that one of them turns into something. Robberse was the fifth-best prospect in the Blue Jays farm system in the preseason ranking by The Athletic’s Keith Law. At the time, Law described him as “a command guy with a great delivery and good spin on two distinct breaking balls. If he threw 96 mph, he’d be a top-10 pitching prospect in the sport. He looks like he could put some weight back on and get himself to solid-average velo, at which point he’s probably a mid-rotation starter given his feel for pitching and present command.”
Kloffenstein was the Blue Jays’ third-round pick in 2018, earning a first-round bonus — and the second-highest of any player taken after the first round.
Blue Jays: B
(Photo: Brad Mills / USA Today)