I was invited on to the LA Angels UK’s podcast Halfway Around the Halo last night as part of recording a preview of the AL West with UK representatives from all the teams in the division.
As part of this we put together a combined AL West batting line-up, starting rotation and a closer. It was a cordial affair by and large and you’ll be pleased to know I ensured a good group of A’s were included (although host Nick pulled rank and added Anthony Rendon to third base!).
When it came to the rotation, whilst Chris Bassitt was a pleasant surprise last season, and Sean Manaea and Frankie Montas have starred at times, there was one pitcher above all else I was going to put forward, one that the rest of the group all readily agreed with.
You’ll struggle to find many other young pitchers with the combination of ability and incredible composure that Luzardo brings. He’s battled through some injuries during his time in the Minor Leagues so there’s a reason why he is not hyped up to the level that some other pitching prospects have been in recent years; however I firmly believe that over the next few seasons he will establish himself as one of the genuine ace-type starting pitchers in the Majors.
It didn’t hurt that Luzardo made his 2021 Cactus League debut just before we recorded the podcast and he was spectacularly impressive. His pitching line against the Texas Rangers was: 4.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 5 K, 2 BB.
This included striking out the side in his fourth and final inning, blazing a 97 MPH fastball and debuting his new secret weapon: a 65 MPH curveball that he refers to as “The Turkey Sub”.
After the game, he explained to the (remotely) assembled press corps that the term was coined by Brian Howard when the two were teammates in Double-A.
“It’s just a turkey sub, nothing to write home about, just gets the job done”.Luzardo on his 65 MPH loopy curveball
Getting the job done may sum up that pitch, yet it doesn’t come close to explaining how Luzardo goes about his craft. He has the ability to dominate and dazzle, to confuse and confound hitters and to bring a poise and presence to the mound that belies his relative inexperience at the Big League level.
If Jesús has a good year then the A’s are going to have a good year.
And I believe Jesús is going to have a great year.