Oakland Athletics: Rookie Jesus Luzardo Has the Potential To Be an Ace

The Jesus Luzardo hype was in full effect leading up to the Oakland Athletics giving him the call-up to the big leagues, and he lived up to all expectations in his debut. Oakland’s number one prospect, Luzardo tossed three innings out of the bullpen on Wednesday night against the Houston Astros, who sport one of the best lineups in Major League Baseball.

He featured a two-seam and four-seam fastball that topped out at 98 mph from the left side, along with a slider and changeup. The 21-year old threw 22 of his 36 pitches for strikes, giving up just one run, which was a solo home run to Martin Maldonado. The A’s phenom looked sharp in his debut, sitting around the mid 90’s with his heater and locating all his offerings well. The only hit he gave up was the solo home run. Besides that, he was stellar, inducing a lot of groundouts and racking up two strikeouts.

Although he doesn’t usually pitch out of the bullpen, there’s a possibility that we could see Luzardo pitch in relief this season considering how lights out Oakland’s rotation has been, as of late.

A Bright Future in Oakland

There has been much anticipation of Luzardo’s arrival in the major leagues, and it’s for good reason. The hard-throwing lefty put together mind-boggling numbers throughout his three-year minor-league career. Luzardo went 14-7 in 46 games, 43 of them being starts, with a 2.53 ERA and 234 strikeouts in just 195.2 innings pitched. He also walked just 43 hitters, holding oppositions to a .219 batting average.

To say that Luzardo has electric stuff on the mound is an understatement. It’s always fun to watch a guy throw in the high 90’s, but when you can locate 98 on the corners with movement, it’s practically unhittable. That’s exactly what Luzardo was doing on Wednesday night. Thanks to his three-quarters arm slot, he gets a ton of arm-side tail and downward movement on his two-seam fastball, his primary heater. The clip below is a perfect example:

If Luzardo didn’t get hurt towards the end of spring training, there was a solid chance that he would’ve made the big-league roster. Regardless, he’s now here to stay. To step in as a reliever, which is something he isn’t used to, and carve up a powerful Astros lineup speaks to his character and talent, especially considering how he’s only 21. Luzardo did a great job of getting ahead of hitters with the first-pitch strike. The only batter who he really fell behind was Maldonado, in which he threw three straight balls and then gave the Astros catcher a 97 mph fastball right down broadway, which he tattooed 400-plus feet.

Future Ace in Oakland

Although he probably won’t start many games for the A’s this season, Luzardo definitely profiles as a number one or two in the A’s rotation moving forward. His stuff is downright electric, and the fact that he has such lights out stuff from the left side makes him that much harder to hit. For now, it looks like the 21-year old will feature in more of a long relief role, but given how impressive he was in the three innings he tossed in his debut, the A’s could have a powerful weapon in their bullpen, as we inch closer to the playoffs.

But since Luzardo didn’t return to the mound until June, throwing just over 40 innings this season between high-A Stockton and triple-A Nashville, his arm is fresh if the A’s need him to log more innings. If he didn’t suffer two injuries during the season, we would’ve seen Luzardo in the big leagues much sooner. But the most important thing is that he’s healthy now and ready to go.

The 21-year old phenom will be a very exciting pitcher to watch for many years to come and undoubtedly a frontline starter in Oakland.

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