Oakland Athletics’ manager Bob Melvin announced that Jesus Luzardo will start Game 1.
It comes as quite the surprise too.
Melvin told reporters on Monday that it will be rookie phenom Jesus Luzardo who takes the mound when the Wild Card round officially begins on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, Melvin also dais that Chris Bassitt — the player many thought would start Game 1 — will ultimately start Game 2. The A’s did not announce a starter yet for Game 3.
Melvin and the A’s are showing trust in their young rookie, but he certainly won’t be tasked with an easy matchup. Not only will he be forced to deal with the pressure of pitching in the postseason, but he’ll do so against a potent Chicago White Sox lineup.
One notable stat is that the White Sox absolutely destroyed left-handed pitching going a perfect 14-0 against southpaws in 2020. Luzardo will be looking to become the first to buck that trend.
Melvin acknowledged Chicago’s success against left-handed pitching and furthered his support for Luzadro.
“We know. We also have some good ones. One of the reasons we pitched Jesús on turn the other day in L.A. in relief is because we targeted him for Game 1. He can be pretty good against lefties and righties.”
The Oakland Athletics are putting their trust in Jesus Luzardo.
That last part is true as left-handed hitters are slashing .219/.250/.344 against him while righties are slashing just .240/.311/.417 with Luzardo on the mound. Perhaps he’s been slightly better against lefties, but he hasn’t necessarily been weak against righties.
In 12 games this season, Luzardo has made nine starts and currently boasts a 4.12 ERA. But with 59 strikeouts in as many innings, the A’s are putting trust in the stuff of their young phenom and hoping he can thwart a very solid White Sox offense.
Even more than that though, the A’s are trusting Luzardo’s mental capacity. Despite being just 22-years-old, the rookie carries himself like a 10-year MLB veteran.
Unless you looked at his baby face, you wouldn’t know that he’s pitching in his first “complete” MLB season. And that right there is why Melvin and the A’s trust him in this role.
Tuesday’s game will represent the biggest task of Jesus Luzardo’s young career. But the A’s know that he’s ready for it.