With the talk that Jesus Luzardo could be a part of the Oakland A’s bullpen for 2020, he has a chance to become a valuable weapon.
Jesus Luzardo was expected to begin his ascension to being the future ace of the Oakland A’s this season. Arguably the top left handed pitching prospect in the game, Luzardo was initially slotted as the A’s fourth starter, a role that was likely to change as the season wore on.
That role has already changed, at least initially. Due to his having tested positive for COVID-19, he will no longer be able to get stretched out in time to be a part of the rotation for the regular season. Luzardo is now likely to begin the season in the bullpen instead.
It is possible that this move could pay dividends for the A’s in 2020. Luzardo showed the potential to be a dominant reliever during his time in Oakland at the end of 2019. He allowed just two runs on five hits and three walks in his 12 innings, striking out 16 batters.
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Should the A’s keep Luzardo in a bullpen role throughout the 2020 season, it is possible that he emerges as one of the better relievers in the game. He did earn the trust of manager Bob Melvin quickly, as he notched two saves and pitched three innings in the Wild Card Game. He allowed just one hit and two walks in his postseason appearance, striking out four.
It is possible that, for at least the one season, Luzardo could be another Josh Hader. He was in a similar situation to Luzardo when making his debut, a lefty with a power arm and devastating slider that began his career in the Brewers’ bullpen. Despite the thought that he would eventually return to a starting role, Hader became extremely valuable as an old school fireman, and eventually, the Brewers’ closer.
The plan remains for Luzardo to be a part of the A’s rotation. If he can develop into the type of pitcher he is expected to become, he would be a building block for Oakland, an ace under team control through 2026. But he may not have the chance to ascend to that throne just yet, with time working against his ability to join the rotation this year.
For one year, the Oakland A’s may have their own Josh Hader in Jesus Luzardo. He could still be a key pitcher on their pitching staff, even if it is not in the rotation this year.