Stewart Tabs Luzardo as Favorite to Win Rookie Honors and as a Cy Young Dark Horse

John Hickey

Oakland pitching legend Dave Stewart sees A’s rookie Jesus Luzardo as an up-and-coming starter who could become a legend down the road once Major League Baseball returns after being shut down during the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

Stewart, who won 20 or more games four consecutive years 1987-90 with the A’s, told TMZ Sports that once the MLB season gets going, he sees Luzardo as the heavy favorite to win Rookie of the Year honors in however-long the 2020 big league season is going to be.

“Luzardo, I think coming into this season obviously is the odd-on favorite to win the Rookie of the Year,” Stewart told the website.

Unwilling to stop there, Stewart went on to say, “I don’t hesitate to take it a little bit further – I wouldn’t be surprised to see him as a Cy Young candidate.”

Although he never won a Cy Young Award himself, Stewart knows what the Cy Young competition is like. He finished second in the voting in 1989, third in both 1987 and 1987 and 1990 and fourth in 1988. And his teammate and friend Bob Welch won the Cy Young in 1990.

That being said, Luzardo, 22, is only one of two highly ranked rookie left-handed starters available to the A’s when/if baseball resumes sometime this summer.

Former first-round draft pick A.J. Puk, shouldn’t be discounted, and Stewart doesn’t.

“What a shame is, you’ve also got A.J. Puk,” he said. “So, you’ve got Puk and Luzardo, and they’re going to be competing with each other for that Rookie of the Year.”

Puk, 24, actually was called up to the big leagues before Luzardo last year, on Aug. 20. Luzardo got the call on Sept. 9. Both men pitched in relief only, and both did well. Luzardo pitched in six games with a 1.50 ERA and 16 strikeouts against three walks in 12 innings. Puk threw in 10 games, 11.1 innings with a 3.18 ERA to go with 13 strikeouts and five walks.

Puk started the first Cactus League game of the spring for the A’s and wound up making two starts before being shelved with what was deemed mild shoulder pain. He was back and working out but didn’t get into another game – giving him a total of three scoreless innings – before the COVID-19 pandemic led to baseball being shut down on March 12.

It was believed at the time that the injury would lead to Puk beginning the season working out of the Oakland bullpen with Chris Bassitt beginning in the rotation, but, assuming no more shoulder troubles, Puk will be favored to be a regular member of the rotation once baseball returns.

As for Luzardo, the shutdown seemed to be the only thing that could slow him down this spring. In three starts he was 1-0 with a 1.08 ERA with 13 strikeouts and just one walk in 8.1 innings pitched.

Stewart, who does some broadcasting for the A’s these days, spent some time in February talking with and working with both young starters, something he does every spring.

And Stewart was scheduled to have his No. 34 retired on May 23, an honor that will have to be rescheduled with baseball not likely back until June, if then.