Nominally, Jesus Luzardo is battling for a spot in the Oakland Athletics starting rotation. He has nothing left to prove at this point.
In theory, the Oakland Athletics have some competition in filling out their starting rotation. While Jesus Luzardo and A.J. Puk are the favorites for the fourth and fifth spots in the rotation, nothing is being handed to either pitcher. Chris Bassitt remains in the mix to take a rotation spot, with non-roster invitees such as Tanner Anderson and Zach Lee battling for a roster spot. Paul Blackburn and Daniel Gossett could also be a part of that battle, as both have experience as a major league starter.
At this point, the battle for at least one of the spots is over. Luzardo has proven that he is ready for a spot in the A’s rotation, as he has dominated thus far in spring training. In his 8.1 innings, he has allowed just one run on four hits and a walk, striking out 13 batters.
Luzardo has also demonstrated an ability to keep the opposition off balance. In his dominant showing over the Mariners on Saturday, he showed that his entire arsenal was major league caliber. Mixing his curve, slider, and change, while spotting his 97 MPH fastball well, Luzardo has been everything the A’s could have imagined.
He displayed that potential in his brief time in the majors last season. Brought into the bullpen as a September callup, Luzardo quickly became a key piece of the relief corps. In his 12 innings last season, he allowed just two runs on five hits and three walks, striking out 16 batters. Luzardo also performed well in the postseason, allowing just three baserunners in his three innings of work, striking out four.
That dominance was to be expected. Luzardo has been one of the most anticipated A’s prospects since his acquisition from the Nationals as part of the Sean Doolittle trade. He dominated during his time in the minors, with a 2.53 ERA and a 1.037 WHiP, striking out 234 batters with only 43 walks in his 195.2 innings.
Yet, there is the thought that he could use some more time in the minors before taking his expected role in the A’s rotation. He has just 11 appearances in AAA, with a 4.60 ERA and a 1.468 WHiP over his 47 innings. Luzardo has also pitched over 55 innings just once as a professional, leading to potential concerns about his durability.
At this point, those concerns no longer matter. Luzardo is demonstrating why he is a consensus top 15 prospect, and arguably the best left handed pitching prospect in the game. His arsenal is ready for the majors now. With the A’s expecting to make a push for the postseason once again, Oakland will need a top of the rotation arm. Luzardo could be that right from the start.
Jesus Luzardo is ready. Any questions about his place in the Oakland Athletics’ rotation have been answered.