Luzardo completely dominated the minor leagues and had an outstanding big league debut in 2019, when he had a 1.50 ERA and a 2.63 Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP) in 12 innings, with a 12.00 K/9 ratio.
Then, 2020 came, and while he wasn’t bad by any means, he wasn’t as good as the A’s expected him to be.
Last season, he finished with a 4.12 ERA and a 4.19 FIP in 59 frames with the big league team.
While he missed plenty of bats (59 strikeouts) and kept the walks in check (2.59 BB/9) he had some problems with the long ball, allowing 1.37 home runs per nine frames.
Seeing all the evidence, it’s fair to wonder: can Jesus Luzardo enjoy a full breakout season in 2021?
Jesus Luzardo Has What It Takes To Break Out
Luzardo has the stuff, control, and command to take a step forward and break out during the 2021 season, at 23 years old.
Jesús Luzardo, 94mph Fastball, 82mph Breaking ball and 86mph Changeup, Overlay (synced at release). ✝️🦎 pic.twitter.com/wk4hbJqhSV
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) September 27, 2019
He throws mainly four pitches: a four-seamer (32.7% of the time per Statcast), a changeup (24.0%) a curveball (22.8%) and a sinker (20.5).
The four-seamer and the sinker set the rest of his arsenal up, and they average over 95 miles per hour.
Both the changeup and curveball are absolutely devastating, as the former has a 44.1 whiff rate and the latter has a 45.7 mark.
If he ever gets more whiffs with his four-seamer up in the zone, Luzardo can be one of the top-10 pitchers in baseball.
He is in a position to break out anyway as it is, with his current stuff and tools.
Jesús Luzardo has high expectations for himself and the A's in 2021.
— A's on NBCS (@NBCSAthletics) March 3, 2021
Not only Luzardo had a very healthy swinging-strike rate in 2020, with 12.6%, but he also generated plenty of grounders, with a 1.47 GB/FB ratio.
Ground balls are ideal for pitchers, as they are generally easier to field than fly balls and liners and lead to better outcomes for the hurler.
Luzardo, therefore, has the perfect combination for future success: command, stuff, and results.
He gets grounders and strikeouts, which are the easiest outs for a pitcher.
Jesus Luzardo’s 2021 Outlook
Oakland will manage his innings carefully, but he is expected to have a rotation spot barring something unforeseen.
Luzardo represents both the present and the future of a franchise that has seen lots and lots of years go by without a championship.
Last year was an atypical season that disrupted many routines, most notably for pitchers, so it’s fair to hope a rebound campaign from one of the majors’ most talented pitchers.
In addition to the short season and the late start to the season, Luzardo had a bout of COVID in 2020 that may have affected him somewhat.
As of now, we can say that Luzardo wants to be better in 2021, as he told Katie Woo of NBC Sports:
“I feel like I worked enough in the offseason that I put myself in a position where I know where my body is right now. I know how it’s supposed to feel. I know what it feels like when I’m doing it right. So I think that now that I’ve worked so much and so consistently there that now should just be muscle memory at this point. I should just be good to go.”
Well, there you have it: Jesus Luzardo seems poised to have a breakout season in 2021.