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Marlins Manager Announces Starter Ahead of Opening Day

Skip Schumaker didn’t take long to announce his starter ahead of Opening Day. The Miami Marlins manager will give the ball to Jesús Luzardo on March 28 against the Pittsburgh Pirates. With Sandy Alcántara slated to miss all of 2024, Luzardo was the ideal choice to take the mound. The left-hander collected a 3.58 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, and 208:55 K:BB across 178 2/3 innings in 32 starts. He will become the first left-handed pitcher to start Opening Day for the Marlins since Mark Hendrickson in 2008.

Jesús Luzardo Tapped to Start Opening Day

“Skip called me into his office,” Luzardo said in front of a group of reporters. “It was him and Sandy (Alcántara), I knew something was up.”

As the conversation continued, Schumaker asked Luzardo what was more of a declaration. “Where is that going to leave you for Opening Day?” Luzardo said Schumaker asked him. “He’s deserving of it,” Schumaker said. “Hopefully, this is the first of many for him. He’s turned himself into the ace of our staff. A guy that has become one of the leaders in that clubhouse and on the staff.”

“He’s our guy right now,” added pitching coach Mel Sottlemyre Jr.: “He’s our guy right now. … Luzardo the second half of last season started to step up. I know he’s going to embrace the pressure that goes with that No.1 spot”

Luzardo’s Path to His First Opening Day Nod

The Washington Nationals selected Luzardo in the third round of the 2016 MLB Draft. A year later, they traded him to the Oakland Athletics as part of the trade package that sent Sean Doolittle and Ryan Madson to Washington. Luzardo made his debut in 2019 with Oakland but struggled to find his footing in the Majors. In 15 starts, he posted a 4.79 ERA in 31 games (15 starts). When Miami acquired Luzardo at the 2021 trade deadline from the A’s for outfielder Starling Marte, Luzardo was at a low point in his career.

At that time, Luzardo (6.44 ERA over 12 starts) showed signs of inconsistency throughout the rest of that season.

Becoming A Key Cog in the Marlins Success

The Marlins saw something in Luzardo and worked with him to find his game. He ended the 2021 season on a strong note with 11 strikeouts over 5 1/3 innings in a one-run start. Luzardo used that start as motivation as he came into the 2022 season as the No. 5 starter in the Marlins rotation. Luzardo showed glimpses of what he could become as a pitcher. He threw a 3.22 ERA while striking out 120 batters over 100 1/3 innings in 18 starts. Last season, he moved up in the rotation as Miami’s No.2 starter behind Alcántara. He finished eighth in ERA among National League-qualified pitchers. Luzardo also set the single-season franchise record with 208 strikeouts for a left-hander.

Now, he will be introduced to the top spot. It was an easy decision for Schumaker and his staff. Luzardo came up to the plate when Alcántara went down last September and has since looked like an ace early this spring.

Main Photo: © Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports



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