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Jesus Luzardo Day! Oakland A’s rookie makes first MLB start tonight

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How to watch the lefty prospect pitch Tuesday night

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Oakland Athletics Photo Day Photo by Rob Tringali/Getty Images

Happy Jesus Luzardo Day!

We’ve already seen the Oakland A’s top prospect pitch in the majors several times. He threw a dozen strong innings last September, authored a brilliant three-inning performance in the Wild Card Game in October, and made two encouraging appearances already this season. But all of those outings came from the bullpen as a reliever, and now on Tuesday night he’ll make his first career MLB start — see the bottom of this post for all the info on how to watch or listen.

If you’re not already familiar with Luzardo, he’s a 22-year-old left-hander with the chance to be the next ace of Oakland’s rotation — and that’s saying something on a team that already has Frankie Montas atop its staff. Luzardo brings upper-90s heat with his fastball, dialing up as high as 98.6 mph already this year, and he can control and command it well. He supplements the heater with an elite changeup and a good breaking ball.

That whole package, combined with high marks for every intangible you can think of, puts him in the Top 15 of just about every mainstream national prospect list out there, and as high as No. 6 according to FanGraphs. In other words, he’s a big deal, as a premium talent with an enormous ceiling, and his only drawback is an already lengthy injury history that includes Tommy John surgery from high school.

Luzardo, MLB: 2.41 ERA, 18⅔ ip, 23 Ks, 6 BB, 1 HR, 11 hits, 2.51 FIP

This debut start would have come even sooner, but Luzardo missed most of preseason training camp while quarantining from a positive coronavirus test. Fortunately, he never showed symptoms and was cleared to return in time for Opening Day, though he had to pitch in relief a couple times to finish stretching out for a starter’s workload. It took an extra week-plus, but now he’s in his rightful place in the rotation.

The opponent is the Texas Rangers, and you can learn more about their lineup here in our series preview or here in our overall 2020 season preview. The first batter he faces will likely be veteran shortstop Elvis Andrus, who has led off for Texas every time they’ve faced a lefty starter this year. Luzardo saw the Rangers twice last summer, throwing four total innings with one run allowed and six strikeouts — the two hits he let through were by outfielder Shin-Soo Choo and catcher Jose Trevino, both of whom are still on the team.

Opposing Luzardo on the mound will be Lance Lynn, who enjoyed a phenomenal bounce-back campaign in 2019 that earned him fifth place in the Cy Young voting. Lynn faced the A’s four times last summer, finishing with two quality starts, one decent one, and one disaster eight-run meltdown. The Oakland lineup he’ll face on Tuesday is coming off an 11-run outburst in Seattle the night before.

How to watch

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