Luzardo, Marlins Pitching Continues to Cruise Defeating Mets 8-0

Jesus Luzardo vs New York Mets 5/17/2024 Photo: JC Ruiz

Jesus Luzardo vs New York Mets 5/17/2024 Photo: JC Ruiz

Miami, Florida – For the third time in franchise history and the first time since 2005, the Miami Marlins pitching staff has pitched three consecutive shutouts. During a season with not much to root for, this has been the best stretch of baseball for Miami all season. After taking two out of three on the road against the Detroit Tigers, the Marlins returned home to loanDepot Park to face the New York Mets with their No.1, Jesus Luzardo, on the mound.

Inconsistent, abysmal, and disappointmenting can all be used to describe the first 50-plus games for the Marlins in 2024, but stretches like this bring optimism and hopefully signs of things slowly turning around for the Fish. The Marlins have strung together these shutout victories with some unlikely names in a starting unit with names like Sandy Alcantara and Eury Perez.

Welcome Back, Jesus Luzardo

Jesus Luzardo, or “Zues,” as Skip Schumaker and his teammates like to call him, dominated on the mound from the very first pitch. This was his second outing since coming off the IL, and he showed no rust. In both outings, Luzardo has thrown at least five innings with a lot of swings and misses. Against the Phillies, he struck out eight, and tonight, against the Mets, he fanned seven.

I think the little time off and just going to make my rehab start. And I think that rehab start honestly helped me a lot just to kind of understand myself, my mechanics where I needed to be. And he (Mel Stottlemyre Jr.) kind of helped me get my feet back under me, said Luzardo. 

What has been even more impressive for Luzardo in this small sample is his control. Tonight’s game also marked the first time this season that he didn’t allow a walk. His velocity is still in the mid-to-upper 90s, and he has only issued one walk in 11 2/3 innings since his injury stint. Luzardo scattered five hits by the Mets through six innings of work on 89 pitches.

Luzardo Back on the Market?

Luzardo’s last two outings showed why many fans were not hesitant to call him Miami’s ace, even though Sandy Alcantara is sidelined with Tommy John. Miami is not competing for a playoff spot and has slim to no chance at a playoff run, but I see this run by Luzardo as going one of two ways. The first option that comes to mind is that if Luzardo continues to pitch like this, his trade stock will only go up. It is no secret now that Miami is on the verge of another fire sale after trading their best hitter, Luis Arraez.

Miami can get a good haul for Luzardo. He is a young, affordable, hard-throwing left-hander starting pitcher who can attract much attention, especially for playoff-contending teams. You can never have enough pitching in this league, and Luzardo has shown that he can be at the top or one of the top pitchers in any team’s rotation.

The second option is that Miami decides to keep Luzardo and that he continues to gain experience as a front-line pitcher in the MLB. If he stays, fans can look forward to next season’s rotation featuring Sandy, Eury Perez, and Luzardo. That does not sound like an easy day at the office for opposing lineups. Let’s not forget about the rest of Miami’s staff with Max Meyer, Edward Cabrera, and Braxton Garrett.

It might be a tall ask to see this rotation fully healthy at the same time, and the direction of this franchise seems geared towards a rebuild than keeping players around from the previous front office. If Luzardo keeps up this successful run on the mound, don’t be surprised to hear his name in trade rumors like this past offseason.

Nick Fortes Was Due

Miami’s catcher, Nick Fortes, is having a rough season offensively, to say the least. Before tonight’s game, he was hitting .127 on the season with one home run and 10 runs batted in. Behind the plate, Fortes has been calling a good game recently, given the pitching results. As frustrating as it can be for Fortes to not produce at the plate, he continues to concentrate and prioritize building a strong connection with this young pitching staff. A priority Skip has reiterated to Fortes throughout his time in Miami.

It’s impressive that he’s done that because he hasn’t been hitting. To separate the offense and the defense is not easy, and it’s been crushing him. But for him to catch three consecutive shutouts now shows you the care factor, – said Skip Schumaker. He’s really growing into catch first hit second, like we need you to catch these guys to keep us in the game. And then the hitting is the hitting. We’ll figure that out later. Even though I know he really wants to hit, I get it. I wanted to hit, too, when I was playing, but the catching part is the most important part of his position. So the three consecutive shutouts are outstanding, and then obviously the cherry on the sundae is the hits, and he needed it. 

Miami got on the board early against the Mets’ starter, Christian Scott, a top-30 prospect in their system. The Marlins were his third opponent in his brief MLB history, but in two starts, one against the Rays and one against the Braves, he threw a combined 12 2/3 innings while striking out 14 batters.

In the bottom of the second, Otto Lopez gave Miami a 1-0 lead with a sac fly to bring in Jesus Sanchez. Vidal Brujan followed up on the sac fly with a single, and next to the bat was Fortes. With one swing of the bat, he connected for his second home run of the season and gave Miami a 4-0 lead. Fortes would go on to finish the game 3-3 with three RBIs and one walk. A career night for the 27-year-old backstop.

A Complete Game All-Around

From an offensive, defensive, and pitching standpoint, this was Miami’s best game all season. The previous two games were shutouts, but Miami squeaked by in those wins, 1-0 and 2-0. Today, the offense erupted early on but did not go flat. They continued to add runs in the sixth and eighth innings to give Luzardo and the bullpen plenty of breathing room.

After Luzardo’s six shutout innings, Anthony Bender, Burch Smith, and Anthony Maldonado followed up with a scoreless inning of relief each. Even though the Marlins had a comfortable lead, seeing the relievers efficient and attacking the strike zone was a positive sign. They issued only one walk and surrendered only one hit.

Offensively, the Marlins scored in many different ways. They scored with the long ball thanks to Fortes in the bottom of the second and then scored with small ball, productive outs, and mistakes on defense by New York.

In the bottom of the sixth, Brujan scored on a wild pitch, and Otto Lopez scored on Bryan De La Cruz’s sac fly. In the bottom of the eighth, the Marlins blew this game wide open, tacking on two more runs. Josh Bell grounded into a fielder’s choice to bring in Fortes, and Jake Burger legged out an infield single to keep the inning alive and brought in Jazz Chisholm Jr.

Ride the Momentum

This has been a fun and historic stretch for the Miami Marlins. They have a chance to record their first four-game win streak of the season and possibly another shutout for four in a row, a feat no Marlins pitching staff has ever accomplished, and they’ve had some big-name arms in their short history as a franchise.

The Marlins are still in the NL East cellar with a 14-32 record, while the Mets are fourth in the division at 20-24. Miami has a chance for back-to-back series wins with a victory tomorrow and will feature Braxton Garrett on the mound. He will go head-to-head with New York’s starter Luis Severino. First pitch will be at 4:10 pm.

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