Jesús Luzardo will return to the mound for his ninth start in a Marlins uniform on Tuesday as the Marlins take on the Nationals.
Tuesday’s game will be the second of six games between the Marlins and Nationals in the next 10 days as they fight to stay out of last place in the division.
The Marlins took the first of a three-game set on Monday with a 3-0 win behind a Sandy Alcantara gem, giving them a two-game lead over the Nationals for fourth place in the NL East.
The win got the Marlins to 61 wins on the season, and with five against the Nationals and three against the Pittsburgh Pirates coming up, the Marlins stand a fair chance at crossing the 70 win threshold for the first time since 2017.
The Marlins will turn to their 23-year-old left hander on Tuesday as they look for win number 62.
When Luzardo came over at the trade deadline from the Athletics in the Starling Marte deal, Marlins fans knew they would have to be patient with him. They realized that quickly after Luzardo posted a 9.67 ERA in his first five starts, allowing five home runs and 17 walks in just 22.1 innings.
However, Luzardo has looked more like the guy who was once a Top 10 prospect in all of baseball in his last three starts.
This right here is why the Marlins traded for Jesús Luzardo.— jeremy taché (@jeremytache) August 29, 2021
The stuff is unquestionable, and he’s put together a real nice start against one of the NL’s most potent lineups today. pic.twitter.com/opyt7Afvkd
In those starts, Luzardo has posted a 2.60 ERA in 17.1 innings, allowing just eight hits—two of which were home runs—and five runs while striking out 19. He has allowed seven walks in that span, four of which came last time out.
Marlins manager Don Mattingly said he has not noticed a specific adjustment that has contributed to his success, but the Marlins are just being patient and allowing him to grow.
“Number one he’s got great stuff, so this kid, he was gonna be good,” Mattingly said. “And really all we’ve tried to do is be consistent with him and let [pitching coach] Mel [Stottlemyre Jr.] work his magic.”
Mattingly said this run is only the beginning for Luzardo.
“I think we’re getting to the point of a little more consistency,” Mattingly said, “but I just still think we’re at the tip of the iceberg.”
One of those starts was a six-inning shutout in which he allowed just one hit and one walk while striking out eight. He added another eight strikeout performance in his last start, meaning he has reached that number in two of his last three starts.
Best curveball whiff% (minimum 250 pitches):— Aram Leighton (@AramLeighton8) September 10, 2021
1. Craig Kimbrel: 58%
2. Corbin Burnes: 49%
3. Jesus Luzardo: 48.1%
4. Blake Snell: 47.4%
5. Triston McKenzie: 45.3%
Another storyline to watch is the Marlins’ young first baseman Lewin Díaz. With five hits in his last four games, Díaz is starting to show flashes of the player the Marlins have always believed he can be.
Díaz was 2-4 with two doubles in Monday’s game and Mattingly explained the signs he has seen that the 24-year-old is ready to start hitting.
“We noticed that in Atlanta his at bats were really better against the lefties,” Mattingly said, “which kinda told me that he was letting the ball travel further against the lefty.”
Mattingly said it is a sign that his timing is better and he is looking to use all parts of the field more over the past few days.
The Marlins will be looking for Díaz to finish the year strong and provide confidence that he deserves to be the starting first baseman on Opening Day 2022.
The Nationals will send right-hander Erick Fedde to the mound on Tuesday. Fedde has struggled all year—he currently holds a 5.31 ERA—but has dominated the Marlins, allowing just two runs in two starts this season.
Erick Fedde's last 4 starts against the Marlins— Fish Stripes (@fishstripes) September 14, 2021
5.0 IP, 0 ER, 4 K
6.0 IP, 0 ER, 6 K
6.0 IP, 0 ER, 4 K
6.1 IP, 1 ER, 10 K