Luzardo's Three Innings Saturday has him in Line for a Move to the Athletics Rotation

John Hickey

It’s possible that the A’s won’t have to wait all that long for Jesus Luzardo to move into the starting rotation.

Luzardo, who’s been back from quarantine over COVID-19, got into the back end of the A’s 4-1 loss to the Angels Saturday. He pitched three strong scoreless innings, allowing one hit.

As starter Sean Manaea said “he’s amazing. The kid’s a stud.”

And he’s a stud the A’s would like to have in the rotation as much as possible.

Manager Bob Melvin said that he could see the possibility of a starting being ready if he can throw 60-65 pitches. Luzardo threw 44, and the natural progression is to go up by 15 pitches per outing, so it’s at least conceivable that Luzardo’s next appearance could be a start.

"For a guy who’s been sitting in his room for a while," Melvin said, "he threw a bullpen and threw to a couple of hitters (since coming back last Monday), for him to give us 45 pitches or whatever it was, and get himself in one little jam and not give up a run, there were a lot of good things that tested him today.

“And he came through with flying colors throwing 98 miles an hour, throwing all his pitches. I’m glad we were able to get him three ups (innings) and get him close to 50 pitches.”

Luzardo hadn’t pitched in a game since March, and because he’d only been back about a week, he didn’t get in even a simulated game.

To make his debut throwing three innings, scoreless no less, left the 22-year-old rookie feeling upbeat about his prospects.

“I was happy to be able to go … three innings, just being able to show that I was ready,” Luzardo said. My arm feels good any my body is physically ready for what’s to come.”

Asked if he believe he was ready to step into the rotation, Luzardo said he was – with one caveat.

“I feel like I am, me personally, just in terms of how my arm feels and the strength of my arm right now,” he said. “I felt good throughout the whole outing. But at the end of the day, it’s not my decision. So, if they want me in the bullpen again, I’ll throw gladly in the bullpen.”

Luzardo’s only hit was a leadoff double hit by Tommy La Stella in the seventh La Stella made it to third base, but no farther. He walked David Fletcher to lead off the eighth, but got Mike Trout to hit into a double play.

Melvin said the club has “a decision to make.”

“At this point, maybe this time, maybe not,” Melvin said. “He could get one more (bullpen) outing. I’m not ruling anything out at this point.”

NOTES:

--Sean Manaea allowed just one base runner through four innings, a Justin Upton homer, and with two out in the fifth he was one out away from five good innings. But in short order he gave up a single and two doubles, giving up all the runs the Angels would get. “I started out hot and just ran out of steam,” Manaea said. “I feel like I should be able to be built up by this point, but I wasn’t. It’s just one of those things.”

--Ramon Laureano got his second straight start as the No. 2 hitter and singled twice. He has four hits in the first two games, so don’t be surprised if he bats second again Sunday in the third game of the four-game series. “He’s pretty good right now,” Melvin said, “wherever you put him in the lineup. He’s tracking the ball really well and not trying to do too much. He’s probably our most consistent hitter.”

--Lou Trivino, who was great for the A’s in 2018 but who struggled through 2019, made his 2020 debut with a 1-2-3 ninth inning. “That was good for him,” Melvin said. “Two years ago, he was as effective as any reliever in all baseball. And, you know, the stuff is still there. I think getting off to a good start today was big for him.”

Follow Athletics insider John Hickey on Twitter: @JHickey3

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