Braves could turn to division rival's talented southpaw to bolster rotation

Jesus Luzardo is most likely next up on the chopping block regarding trades for the Marlins, but would it make sense for him to take his talents to A-town?
Philadelphia Phillies v Miami Marlins
Philadelphia Phillies v Miami Marlins / Megan Briggs/GettyImages
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Jesus Luzardo has been one of the crown jewels of the Marlins young pitching staff. He posted a 3.58 ERA with 10 wins in 2023 and rocked an even lower 3.32 ERA in 2022 while locking down batters to a .191 average against him.

So far, Luzardo has put up uncharacteristic numbers with a 4.18 ERA in 2024, with his largest issue being the long ball already allowing six of them in just nine starts. Nonetheless, Luzardo is a quality arm that could benefit almost any rotation in the league.

In the absence of ace Spencer Strider and now reigning National League MVP Ronald Acuña Jr., the Braves have some decisions to make regarding acquiring new players at the deadline. Names such as Taylor Ward, Mason Miller, and Jazz Chisolm Jr. are swirling around the league as possible trade pieces, but Luzardo might fix a larger problem than an outfielder or a closer.

Why trading for Luzardo makes sense for the Braves

With Max Fried being lights out, Chris Sale returning to vintage form, and Reynaldo Lopez rocking a 1.75 ERA, there is still a missing piece with the absence of Strider. Charlie Morton has been good for the most part as well but his most recent start showed some signs of concern.

The Braves were hoping for Elder to continue the hot start to his career and possibly have him lock down the fifth spot in the rotation, but after consecutive poor performances, they demoted him. Spencer Schwellenbach made the most of his MLB debut and should get a shot to start again.

However, even with the strong performances thus far from the first three starters of the rotation, there is still a glaring hole in the back end of the rotation, leaving the perfect amount of space for Luzardo.

When it comes to relief pitching, no team can have enough of it, but the Braves bullpen ERA has jumped from eleventh in the league overall in 2023 to fourth in 2024. The Braves lockdown pen is headlined by the righty-lefty punch of Raisel Iglesias and A.J. Minter, along with a great supporting cast of relievers.

Unfortunately, Minter was placed on the IL recently and left a void in the bullpen. Ray Kerr has been starting games over the last week or so but the team will need to consider relegating him to the bullpen again.

If the Braves were to make a splash at the deadline, it may not need to be on a big closer such as Mason Miller. However, with Minter down it adds another question mark for the team.

Even though the outfield is lacking the National League MVP, the Braves luckily have backup. With Adam Duvall and Jarred Kelenic manning the corners paired with Michael Harris II patrolling center, the Braves will be more than okay in the outfield barring any additional injuries. This answer to a missing Acuña is once again a point to search elsewhere for additions instead of trading for a blockbuster outfielder.

One final reason on why Luzardo would fit great with the Braves is continuing the pattern of young guys with team control. Still on his rookie contract, Luzardo has three years until he becomes a free agent, fitting well within the winning window of the Braves.

Analytically, Luzardo is in the 75th percentile when it comes to fastball velocity (95.4 mph)and his 31.2% whiff percentage sits in the 87th percentile. His walk rate isn't good though at 7.7 per nine innings and that is something Atlanta needs to consider.

They would also have a chance of pulling their signature move of signing young stars to long and cheap contracts before they become free agents, bolstering their rotation for the present and the future.

While there are still many question marks in terms of what may happen at the deadline, one thing is for sure, and that is that the Braves will continue to compete. No matter who they trade for, they will still be gunning for the postseason.

A trade for Jesus Luzardo though, may have positive rippling effects lasting well past the 2024 season, allowing Atlanta to have one of the deepest and most intimidating rotations in the entire league over the next few seasons.

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