Prized Athletics left-hander Jesus Luzardo had been nearing his major league debut, but that’s now off the table for the time being. Luzardo, out all season with a left rotator cuff strain, suffered a Grade 2 left lat strain in a Triple-A rehab start Tuesday, the team announced. There’s no timetable for Luzardo’s return from his newest injury.
This is a brutal development for the playoff-contending Athletics, who were banking on Luzardo helping to stabilize their rotation down the stretch. Luzardo, widely regarded as an elite pitching prospect, had been expected to slot into their staff after the All-Star break. The 21-year-old’s forthcoming debut would have been all the more timely with the A’s having lost their ace, Frankie Montas, to an 80-game suspension for performance-enhancing drugs on June 21.
Oakland will now have to continue waiting for Luzardo, whose ongoing absence could impact its trade deadline plans. Despite Montas’ loss, general manager David Forst suggested last week the A’s would focus more on upgrading their bullpen than their rotation around the deadline. The team may now have to reverse course in the wake of Luzardo’s setback, though. The A’s rode an underwhelming rotation to a playoff berth in 2018, but expecting it to happen again with this year’s mediocre bunch might be unrealistic.