Jesús Luzardo will be the A’s starter for Game 1 of the AL Wild Card series against the Chicago White Sox, manager Bob Melvin said Monday. Chris Bassitt will start Game 2.
Despite it being his rookie season, Luzardo is more than ready for the opportunity.
“As we saw last year, we used him in a different role, we brought him in the wild-card game and looked like a veteran on the mound -- pitched really well,” Melvin said. “He’s composed, he’s got great stuff, I think he’s one of those guys who kind of relishes these types of games, so at a young age it’s kind of rare to see, but I think the experience he got last year and some of the attributes we talked about would mean that he wouldn’t afraid of the first game tomorrow.”
At 22 years old, Luzardo looks to be the second-youngest pitcher in A's franchise history to start the team's first game of a postseason.
Luzardo finished the 2020 regular-season campaign with a 4.12 ERA with 59 strikeouts in just as many innings, good enough for a 1.271 WHIP.
“[Luzardo] can be pretty good against lefties and righties as we saw last year as well, so we’ll go with him in [Game] 1 and [Chris] Bassitt lined up for Game 2,” Melvin said. “We want to keep him on regular turn, and like I said, we’ll make a decision on Game 3, at a later date.”
Luzardo pitched in relief last Thursday against the Los Angeles Dodgers in order to stay true to the team’s rotation.
“One of the reasons that we pitched Jesús on turn the other day in LA in relief is because we targeted him for Game 1,” Melvin said.
One thing working in the A’s favor is that they have ample pitching depth.
“We’ll have plenty of pitching,” Melvin said, adding that Mike Minor will be in the mix as well.