Athletics left-hander Jesus Luzardo has been on the shelf since testing positive for the coronavirus July 7, but he has recovered from the illness. Luzardo has been cleared to practice and will rejoin Athletics Summer Camp on Friday, Martin Gallegos of MLB.com tweets.
One of the game’s absolute best pitching prospects, health issues have beset Luzardo over the past year-plus. The A’s hoped he’d be a significant contributor last season, but he ended up missing a large portion of it because of rotator cuff and lat problems. Luzardo was able to make his much-anticipated major league debut in September, though, and the down-the-stretch results he recorded were spectacular. The flamethrowing 22-year-old made six appearances from Oakland’s bullpen and put up a 1.50 ERA with 12.00 K/9 and 2.25 BB/9 over 12 innings. He added three more frames of scoreless, one-hit ball with four strikeouts and two walks in the A’s wild-card game loss to the Rays.
From a long-term standpoint, a best-case scenario for Oakland would see Luzardo turn into a front-line starter. As far as this season goes, though, it’s unclear how the A’s will utilize him. Because of the time he missed, pitching coach Scott Emerson suggested this week (via Matt Kawahara of the San Francisco Chronicle) Luzardo could fill a short-inning role, at least initially, saying: “It’s just a matter of when we get him on the team, do we start him two innings or do we use him more in a leverage situation and maybe pick his days that he gets to pitch?”
Assuming Luzardo won’t be in their season-opening rotation, it seems likely the A’s will come out of the gates in 2020 with Mike Fiers, Sean Manaea, Frankie Montas, A.J. Puk and Chris Bassitt as their starting five.