Luzardo allowed an earned run on four hits and a walk over four innings in a Cactus League split-squad win over the Giants on Sunday. He struck out five. Luzardo continues to press his rather unlikely candidacy for the Athletics' final rotation spot to open the season. Sunday's outing served as the latest example he may be ready for the rigors of the majors based on ability alone. Jane Lee of MLB.com reports that Luzardo impressively worked around trouble in the first after allowing the first two hitters to reach safely via a walk and a single, escaping the frame with just one earned run allowed. The southpaw then retired the next six hitters and didn't allow another run, finishing the start with 62 pitches. Luzardo has now racked up 15 strikeouts over 9.2 spring innings, and he'll remain in Arizona when the team travels to Japan later this week in order to remain on his regular throwing schedule ahead of a Bay Bridge series start in late March.
Luzardo struck out six of the 10 batters he faced in a 2.2-inning, 51-pitch Cactus League outing against the Rangers on Tuesday, Jane Lee of MLB.com reports. "You look for the nerves or whatever, first big-league camp, and we haven't seen a sign of it," manager Bob Melvin said. "Comes in the dugout between innings, very cognizant of what's going on, has conversations with the catchers, the pitching coaches." Luzardo is technically in the mix for one open rotation spot, but chances are he will stay down for a least a couple weeks for service-time reasons. The southpaw was making his first start after opening the spring with a pair of relief appearances, and Tuesday's outing extended his spring scoreless streak to 5.2 innings. Luzardo has given up only two hits and already fanned 10 hitters, with his elite changeup proving especially effective when interspersed with an impressive fastball that the 21-year-old is still actively working on locating more consistently. "I think when you have three pitches like that and you don't feel great about one, you have two you can go to, and there's a nice little gap between the two and they both look alike," Melvin said. "His fastball and his changeup look exactly alike."
Luzardo (illness) struck out three batters across two clean innings against the Dodgers last Wednesday. Luzardo dealt with a minor illness in between his first two Cactus League appearances, though the young left-hander didn't seem affected by the issue. He's allowed just one unearned run on two hits with a 4:1 K:BB through two outings (three innings) this spring. Luzardo, who is competing for a rotation spot in camp, is slated to start Tuesday against the Rangers.
Luzardo is not at camp Sunday due to illness, John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle reports. The absence comes two days after his spring debut against the Mariners on Friday, in which he allowed a run on two hits and a walk while striking out one in an inning of work. He's scheduled to pitch again in Wednesday's game against the Dodgers, though that plan could change if his throwing schedule is altered by the illness.
Luzardo was among the pitchers general manager David Forst named Friday as candidates for the Oakland rotation this season, Chris Haft of MLB.com reports. "We're not going to rule [Luzardo making the Opening Day rotation] out. I think we've said that for a little while," Forst said. "If he's good enough, there's no reason not to have him in the rotation. It's obviously a big leap for someone who has thrown only a few innings at Triple-A. But he's going to get a nice, long look in spring training -- as long a look as you can get in 32 days, or however long we're down there." Beyond free-agent signings Mike Fiers and Marco Estrada, Oakland appears to have no other surefire rotation members from a group that includes Luzardo, Daniel Mengden, Paul Blackburn, Chris Bassitt, Aaron Brooks and Frankie Montas. While Haft notes that Forst rattled off five of those names before mentioning Luzardo, the 21-year-old lefty unquestionably has the highest fantasy upside of the lot. Across stops at three minor-league levels in 2018, Luzardo rode his big fastball to a 2.88 ERA and 129 strikeouts over 109.1 frames. Now almost three years removed from March 2016 Tommy John surgery, Luzardo could push for over 150 innings, with a decent chunk -- if not all -- likely to come at Oakland if the organization determines he's sufficiently battle tested in the high minors.
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