Jesús Luzardo recently was demoted to Triple-A after struggling in a relief role for the Athletics.
In his last five appearances before being sent down, the 23-year-old lefty allowed six homers and posted a 16.50 ERA. Luzardo was having a tough time with his pitch location and the trip to Las Vegas might be what he needs in more ways than one.
A’s general manager David Forst spoke to NBC Sports California’s Brodie Brazil about Luzardo and the next steps for him.
“Every one of those decisions is unique and the players are different,” Forst said. “There’s so many things that go into them and with Jesús, the freak injury that he sustained, and missing -- whatever it was, four to five weeks, we hoped to bring him back in the bullpen and maybe get him stretched out. Those opportunities don’t always present themselves.”
While Luzardo always has been viewed as a starter, he did come out of the bullpen to begin his MLB career in 2019, and he thrived in that role.
In 12 innings out of the bullpen in 2019, Luzardo struck out 16 batters and had a 1.50 ERA.
“The best thing for him and for this 26-man roster right now is to get him back to Triple-A and to stretch him out to where he’s an option to start,” Forst said. “The great thing is, he flew directly from Dallas to Vegas, got into the game Tuesday night, threw three innings, gave up no earned runs, and punched out some guys. To see him get back on the horse in Triple-A so quickly is a really good sign. We will be able to get him more reps there and really make him a starting pitching option for our club.”
In 4 2/3 innings over two games with the Triple-A Aviators, Luzardo has allowed just one unearned run and has 12 strikeouts.
Forst said there also could be a confidence factor there, something A’s manager Bob Melvin mentioned previously in addition to having Luzardo work on his breaking ball.
“Without a doubt,” Forst said. “We can forget at times how young Jesús is and how little major league experience -- you think about coming up in 2019, last year being an abbreviated season, this guy is still in the early parts of his career and confidence is a huge part of that.”