The Oakland A’s pitching staff has received a boost as Jesus Luzardo has been cleared to rejoin his teammates.
Back on July 7, the Oakland A’s received a major blow to the rotation. Jesus Luzardo, who was expected to serve as the A’s fourth starter this season, had tested positive for COVID-19. He was immediately placed in quarantine, but there were questions as to how long he would be sidelined.
Fortunately for the A’s, he was not sidelined that long. Luzardo is no longer considered to have the coronavirus, and will rejoin his teammates on Friday.
Even with his return, there are questions as to what his role will be. With just a week before Opening Day, there will not be much time for him to be stretched out and prepare for a starting role. It is possible that Luzardo, at least for the time being, could work as a reliever.
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It is a role that Luzardo thrived in last season. In his 12 innings in the majors, he allowed just two runs on five hits and three walks, striking out 16 batters. He even notched two saves during his time in the Oakland bullpen, showing that he could handle those high leverage situations without issue.
Keeping Luzardo in the bullpen, at least initially, also provides the A’s with a fallback option in case Liam Hendriks cannot replicate his 2019 success. Joakim Soria is nominally the next in line for saves but hardly inspires confidence. Luzardo could handle the role for a season before building himself up to return to the rotation in 2021.
Long term, Luzardo will be a part of the A’s rotation. He has the pure stuff to be a future ace, and has displayed that potential when on the mound. The problem has been keeping him on the mound, as he has dealt with Tommy John surgery, as well as rotator cuff and lat issues. Oakland needs to watch Luzardo not just for this season, but for the future as well.
Jesus Luzardo is set to rejoin his teammates. How the Oakland A’s will utilize him this year is another question.