The St. Louis Cardinals will continue Jordan Hicks' transition from the bullpen to the rotation when they host the Baltimore Orioles on Thursday.
The contest will be the finale of a three-game interleague series. The Orioles won 5-3 on Tuesday, their third victory in a row, before the Cardinals answered with a 10-1 win on Wednesday to snap their three-game losing streak.
After throwing a total of four scoreless innings in two relief outings to open the season, the right-handed Hicks (1-2, 3.78 ERA) has a 4.97 ERA in four starts.
In his past two outings, Hicks has lasted just 3 1/3 and 4 1/3 innings. While the Cardinals won both games, Hicks yielded a combined four runs on five hits and four walks while not factoring in either decision.
Hicks totaled 20 saves and 27 holds during the 2018 and 2019 seasons while relying heavily on his 100 mph fastball. He underwent Tommy John surgery in June 2019, opted out of the 2020 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and had his 2021 season end in early May due to an elbow ailment.
Since returning at the start of this year, he has tried to expand his pitch repertoire as a starter.
"The curveball is going to be 78-80 mph," Hicks said. "I don't see that going lower. Slider is about 81-85. The change is going to be 90-93. And then the fastball (at 100). I really like everything else that happened. Stick with that, get ahead in the count, and that's important for me."
Hicks is set to oppose the Orioles for the first time in his career.
The Cardinals have had rookie Brendan Donovan filling in at shortstop the past two games after sending slumping Paul DeJong to Triple-A Memphis to work on his swing.
"I feel good over there," Donovan said. "Being a utility guy, you've just to continue to hammer reps everywhere. That's what I'm going to do."
Shortstop Edmundo Sosa could be back from his rehabilitation assignment at Double-A Springfield in time to play on Thursday, but Donovan has built a .937 on-base-plus-slugging percentage through 18 at-bats for St. Louis. Cardinals manager Oliver Marmol was undecided after Wednesday night's game on his Thursday starter at shortstop.
Orioles manager Brandon Hyde said he wouldn't announce his starting pitcher for the series finale until Thursday morning. The team considered calling a player up from the minors for the game, but Baltimore may opt for a bullpen game instead.
Ryan Mountcastle was slated to fill Baltimore's designated hitter role on Wednesday, but he was a late scratch due to left-wrist soreness. He is considered day-to-day.
"Mounty's been dealing with a sore wrist the last few days, just kind of battling through it," Hyde said. "Woke up with it a little bit more sore (Wednesday), so out of precaution took him out of the lineup. Trying to get that to feel better, and hopefully he's ready in the next day or two."
Orioles shortstop Ramon Urias missed a second straight game because of abdominal discomfort. If he can't return on Thursday, then Chris Owings or Jorge Mateo could start in his place.
"You play a six-month season, you feel like when somebody gets banged up, it's a domino effect a little bit where all of a sudden you get two or three guys," Hyde said. "We've been really fortunate so far, and right now we're a little bit nicked up, got some bumps and bruises."
--Field Level Media