Love this Marte-Jesus Luzardo trade for the Marlins. Buying low on a pitcher who needs further development, but one who still has the building blocks to be a useful big leaguer. (And pitching in Las Vegas will mess with any pitcher's head/statistics).
— JJ Cooper (@jjcoop36) July 28, 2021
In order to agree to the deal, the A’s asked Miami to cover Marte’s remaining salary for the season: after all, they are giving up a player that was considered the best pitching prospect in baseball not too long ago.
Luzardo is joining the perfect organization for him: one that does a fantastic job developing pitchers and can afford the patience to fix what ails him.
And it’s clear that, while supremely talented, there is something wrong with Luzardo.
A Rough 2021
Last year was positive for Luzardo: his ERA wasn’t the best at 4.12, but he pitched 59 innings in the shortened season and had a strikeout per frame.
However, everything went downhill in 2021.
He began the year as a starter, but suffered a hairline fracture in his left hand after pounding it on a table while playing video games: yes, that happened.
He missed about a month of action and returned as a reliever, but the A’s said they would put him back in the rotation eventually.
However, he has conceded six home runs and 11 runs over 10 relief innings.
Overall, he has a 6.87 ERA this season.
Luzardo looks lost, but if there is an organization that can get him back on track eventually, it’s the Marlins.
They have managed to put together impressive organizational pitching depth: they have Alcantara, Pablo Lopez, Sixto Sanchez, Cody Poteet, Elieser Hernandez, Thompson, Braxton Garrett, Max Meyer, Edward Cabrera, and more on the way.
Some of them are injured, some of them are not ready to be contributors, but they all have potential, and some of them are already very, very good.
Luzardo, therefore, is joining an organization that will work with him to make the necessary adjustments to help him reach his full potential.
His immediate future is more about skill development than results, since the Marlins are out of the race and want to “fix” Luzardo with an eye in 2022 and beyond.
So, What’s Up With Luzardo?
Luzardo usually throws four pitches: a four-seam fastball, a sinker, a curveball, and a changeup.
The curveball is magnificent, perhaps his best secondary pitch.
It has an extraordinary 55.3 whiff rate, and had a 45.7 mark last season.
His changeup is almost as good, even if it hasn’t been as sharp this season.
The problem is his fastball: it’s very, very bad.
Batters are hitting .333 with a .784 slugging percentage against it this year.
Last year, it was more of the same: hitters slugged .508 against Luzardo’s heater.
It has pretty good velocity, but it usually doesn’t fool anyone.
As The Athletic’s Eno Sarris recently suggested, Luzardo will probably need to change the shape of his fastball to take the next step.
By stuff+ and command+, Jesús Luzardo is exactly average. Adding a hard breaking ball or using the sinker less might improve the stuff a little, but to be much better he needs to change the shape of his four seamer. Good haul for a rental outfielder but there’s some work to do.
— Eno Sarris (@enosarris) July 28, 2021
Of course, it’s easier said than done, given that it probably involves changes in grip, release point, and other things that are likely to take some time.
When all is said and done, however, Luzardo should be fine, and the trade was a no-brainer for a Marlins franchise that tried to extend Marte, with no success.