The A’s will activate left-hander Jesus Luzardo prior to tomorrow’s game with the Angels, Oakland manager Bob Melvin told MLB.com’s Martin Gallegos (Twitter links) and other reporters. Luzardo started his first six games of the season for the Athletics, but Melvin said that Luzardo will be used out of the bullpen for now.
Luzardo will return after missing almost a full month of action, as he was placed on the 10-day injured list on May 2 after suffering a hairline fracture in his left pinkie finger. The injury actually occurred prior to Luzardo’s start on May 1, which could explain his rough numbers (three earned runs on two walks and five hits in three IP) against the Orioles in that outing, though Luzardo had struggled to a 5.40 ERA in his previous 25 innings of the season.
The southpaw’s advanced metrics are a mixed bag. Luzardo’s Statcast numbers are nothing special, though his strikeout and walk rates are slightly above average and his .306 xwOBA far outpaces his .356 wOBA. Luzardo’s 4.27 SIERA, .350 BABIP and 63.2% strand rate provide further evidence that he has been a little unlucky to have a 5.79 ERA over his 28 innings.
Luzardo’s bullpen assignment may not be permanent, as Melvin said the Athletics plan to “play it by ear” with Luzardo’s role. Ideally, Melvin said Luzardo would be able to build up his pitch count and get stretched out while pitching as a reliever, which hints at a long relief role for the left-hander. The other issue could be that the A’s want to see what they have in James Kaprielian, who has an impressive 1.53 ERA over his first 17 2/3 innings and three starts for Oakland. If Kaprielian falters or another starter gets injured, it could open the door for a relatively quick return to starting duty for Luzardo.