In the last release of the Rotoprofessor 2020 Fantasy Baseball Draft Guide Jesus Luzardo was ranked #47 among starting pitchers. Keep in mind that the ranking was based on 150 innings, as there were concerns of an innings limit capping his appeal. With an obviously abridged season ahead (hopefully) and teams potentially being forced to go with 6 or 7 starters (based on numerous double headers), an innings limit should no longer be an issue. All pitchers could seemingly be in the same boat, depending on the length of the schedule they try to cram in.
So with that no longer a concern, how does Luzardo rank? First let’s look at the actual skills he brings to the table, looking at 2018 when he pitched 109.1 innings:
- Strikeouts – 10.62 K/9 (courtesy of a 14.6% SwStr%)
- Control – 2.47 BB/9
- Groundballs – 47.1%
Last season, over 43.0 innings in the minors, he was even better with an 11.93 K/9, 1.67 BB/9 and 53.4% groundball rate. They are impressive marks, and when you look at his repertoire (as described by MLB.com) you get even more excited:
He’s got more than enough velocity, touching 98 mph and often sitting in the mid-90s, and he averaged 97 mph during his brief big league debut in 2019. He commands the pitch to both sides of the plate well and misses bats with it, while the sink on his two-seamer leads to a lot of groundball outs. He has one of the best changeups of any pitching prospect in baseball, thrown with a ton of fade and sink. There’s some debate over his breaking stuff, with some seeing a distinct curve and cutter-like slider and others seeing one power slurve type of hybrid pitch he can add and subtract from.
Now back to our projections for him heading into the season, let’s take a look at a few key numbers:
- 9.78 K/9 (163 K over 150 IP)
- 2.70 BB/9 (45 BB over 150 IP)
While neither would put him towards the top of the rankings, they are both solid numbers and look even better with a groundball rate and home ballpark that will help him limit the home run damage. In fact, if you projected everyone to the same number of innings Luzardo would be placed right in the same class as Chris Paddack, Sonny Gray and Jesus Berrios considering his projected 3.85 ERA and 1.19 WHIP.
That rise, coupled with the loss of Noah Syndergaard and Chris Sale, puts him right in the mix as a Top 30 pitcher. Obviously there’s going to be risk, but with innings no longer a question Luzardo is suddenly one of the better options in the league.
Source – Fangraphs, MLB.com
Make sure to check out all of our 2020 Fantasy Baseball preseason rankings: