For his minor league career, Jesus Luzardo made 43 starts, posting a 14-7 record with a 2.53 ERA, 1.04 WHIP and a solid 10.8 K/9 mark. One dominating performance after another pushed Oakland’s hand, and Luzardo was as advertised in his 2019 stint in the majors that can be classified as the same length as a cup of coffee. Across 12 innings of work, he posted a 16:3 K/BB ratio, alongside a 1.50 ERA and 0.67 WHIP. He doubled down on that performance in the 2019 postseason, making one appearance and striking out four batters across three scoreless innings.

As you can expect, he FLEW up the boards for the 2020 season, because everyone expected him to be one of the elite options on a per inning basis. However, the big question was how much of a workload could he handle? Err, how much would Oakland let him handle?

  • 2017: 43.1 IP
  • 2018:109.1 IP
  • 2019: 53 IP (+3IP in postseason)

When the season was shortened, many people, including myself, were more in on Luzardo, because the inevitable innings limit concern was mitigated with the delayed/shortened season. While he wasn’t as elite as we had hoped, it was far from a poor season. He still managed to strikeout a batter per inning while keeping a sub seven percent walk rate. His WHIP at 1.27 was a bit high for a guy that didn’t walk a lot of people, but a .306 BABIP and .254 average against will do that to anyone.

So, after an excellent 2019, and slightly underwhelming 2020, what does 2021 hold in store for Luzardo?

It would be great to see the strikeout rate jump closer to his mark from the minors, or even 2019 for that fact. When you look at some of his plate discipline metrics, per FanGraphs, the decrease in strikeouts is pretty easy to see. He didn’t miss as many bats. His swinging strike rate dropped two percentage points, and his contact metrics went the wrong way for fantasy managers.













It’s tough to rack up strikeouts when you generate fewer whiffs and are in the zone less. Given his lengthy track record of strikeouts in the minors, his strikeouts will rebound. Also, isn’t the silver lining in all of this is the fact that in what, to this point, we consider a “down” year for Luzardo in the strikeout department, he still struck out one batter per inning? He’s only 23-years-old.

If you look at his pitch percentage overall from the 2020 season, nothing really jumps off the page. Sure, there’s some variation in his usage, highlighted by his four-seamer becoming more prevalent than his sinker, but the real juicy stuff is when you look at how he used his repertoire against righties and lefties. Take a look below.


Vs. R

Vs. L













I understand that pitchers use their arsenal differently depending on the handedness of the batter, but it’s interesting that Luzardo essentially throws away his second-best whiff pitch (changeup) when facing left-handed hitters. Yes, his curveball is ideal for decimating lefties, because it curves away from them, but the arm-side run of the changeup could be lethal on both sides of the plate.

I think his pitch selection and usage against lefties explains a lot in terms of the increased hard contact they made against him in 2020. I mean, overall, hard contact was up against Luzardo, but it was far more pronounced against lefties.

More line drives led to harder contact against Luzardo last year. It’s no surprise. Fortunately, there weren’t as many fly balls, and his launch angle decreased by nearly four degrees, but the exit velocity was up considerably.





Hard Hit%











Courtesy of FanGraphs & Baseball Savant

While 2020 may have been underwhelming for Luzardo’s managers, he’s been solid overall in the bigs. In fact, since the start of 2019, of pitchers that have logged at least 70 innings of work, there are just five pitchers with a ground ball rate of at least 44.8 percent, a swinging strike rate of at least 13 percent and a walk rate below seven percent. Here are the names:

  • Yu Darvish, Luzardo, Stephen Strasburg, Ryan Pressly, and Shane Bieber

Ever heard of any of them?

Luzardo brings the heat on the mound and there’s some developing he needs to do, but at the ripe age of 23, there’s still plenty of maturation and development to occur. He should enjoy more strikeouts this year, and while there are still questions about how much of a workload he can handle, he’s worthy of his current ADP, which is the 36th pitcher (31st starter) off the board, per NFBC data. The innings limit may be a detractor to you, as might his injury history, but he’s poised to take a big leap in 2021.

He’s not yet ready to headline a fantasy rotation, but as your SP3, he should post double-digit wins in 2021, with an ERA in the mid-3s and a strikeout rate no lower than about 26-27 percent.


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