STREET. LOUIS — Not that they didn’t already know it, but the second half of the season will be a balancing act for the underdog Marlins.
While in the middle of the NL wild card race, Miami must watch its young starting pitchers with injury histories that exceed their career highs for innings. that’s why lefty Jesus Luzardo he did not return to the mound over the weekend in Baltimore following the All-Star break.
“We were trying to protect him as much as we could with the number of innings he’s pitched earlier in his career to build on now,” manager Skip Schumaker said. “It will go through [his career high] this year. With the All-Star break, you’re trying to give him an extended amount of time so that, not to recover because he wasn’t hurt at all, but to get more rest.
“But it’s hard to do it when your pitcher hasn’t pitched [eight] days. Not all the time you have your command.
A rusty Luzardo was chased in the fifth inning by the Marlins 6-4 loss the Cardinals on Monday night at Busch Stadium. Miami has lost four in a row for the first time since May 2-6, and nine of 14 after going 23-8 in its previous 31 games.
Setting the tone is the pitching staff, which has a 5.60 ERA during this span, 26th in the majors.
“It has nothing to do with taking time off or anything, it was more that I was feeling a little out of sync with my mechanics, which, again, shouldn’t and can’t happen, especially after the last one. series.” said Luzardo, who pitched during the four-day off. “I felt like I needed to come here and pitch well for our team, and I got a little frustrated that I couldn’t do it.”
When Luzardo last took the mound on July 9, he held the Phillies to two runs in 6 1/3 innings to clinch the series win against the club chasing the Marlins in the standings. It capped off a great first half for Luzardo, who compiled a 3.29 ERA and 10.6 K/9 rate in his career-high 19 starts.
The 25-year-old left-hander had allowed just four runs in 31 2/3 innings (1.14 ERA) with 40 strikeouts in his last five starts, including six scoreless innings with eight strikeouts on July 4 against these same Cardinals trying to be sellers. on the Trade Deadline.
“We did a good job of narrowing the zone, and when you’re facing an arm like that, you can’t expand it, because we’re going to be in big trouble,” said Nolan Arenado, who hit an RBI single in the third. against Luzardo. “So it was difficult. [Luzardo] It was really tough on us in Miami, and it was tough today too, but we were able, I guess, to hold it off a bit and find a way to score some runs.”
In the series opener on Monday, Luzardo recorded just 12 putouts and needed 92 pitches to get it done. Although he limited the damage to three runs (two earned), his numbers were among the worst of the season:
Luzardo’s 2.2 BB/9 rate in the first half was the lowest of his career, but he had a hard time catching the ball Monday, perhaps because of the humidity. He struggled throwing his changeup and slider for strikes.
“If those two pitches don’t work for me, then I’m basically stuck with just my fastball, and that’s never where we want to be,” Luzardo said. “I felt like even the fastball, he didn’t have a great command. It was just getting out of hand and again I feel like I just need to be able to control my stuff more to break. That way it helps me get my fastball back in the zone.”
“It’s going to be fine,” Schumaker said. “I’m looking forward to his second start after the break, and he’s going to be fine. She still had her veil, her things are there. I think throwing strikes, as we say all the time, when he throws strikes, is very, very good. I think he’ll hone that in the next bullpen and he’ll be fine.”