Former Oakland A’s embrace another playoff chase in Miami

Jesús Luzardo and A.J. Puk are drawing from their previous postseason experience to help the Marlins during an intense NL Wild Card race.

Looking up and down the Miami Marlins roster, there is a lot of playoff experience. David Robertson (2009), Johnny Cueto (2015), Jorge Soler (2021) and Yuli Gurriel (2017 & 2022) are all former World Series champions. So was manager Skip Schumaker (2011) during his playing days. Also, some players still remain from the Marlins team that reached October in the COVID-shortened 2020 season.

What you might not realize is pitchers Jesús Luzardo and A.J. Puk gained that experience, too. Both were part of postseason baseball as members of the Oakland Athletics.

Puk was on their 2019 AL Wild Card Game roster, though he did not appear in the game. The 2021 A’s looked like serious contenders for most of the season before coming up short in the end. Puk came up from the minors in August to contribute out of the bullpen for them.

“It was definitely the best time of the year,” said Puk. “It’s fun being in it. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself and just go out there have fun and play and know that what’s gonna happen is gonna happen and the team’s real focus is right now. I am excited to see what we can do.”

Luzardo had a 5.91 ERA and 7.13 FIP in 10 ⅔ total innings in 2019 and 2020. His best outing was his postseason debut where he went three shutout innings, struck out four, walked two and gave up one hit against the Tampa Bay Rays.

Luzardo finds himself in a different role these days—he is a stable piece of the Marlins rotation. With a 3.68 ERA and 3.67 FIP in 166 ⅓ innings pitched, he’s been a huge reason why they are still in the NL Wild Card race with only 10 games left in the regular season.

“I think the mentality is just go out and play the best brand of baseball we can,” said Luzardo on Wednesday before the game. “At the end of the day, if we go and everyone does their job and plays as good of baseball as possible, I think we’re gonna have a good chance.”

Although Luzardo does have his own playoff experience, he still values what the older veterans on the team have to say.

“I’ll take all the experience I can get,” said Luzardo. “I still asked to Cueto, Soler and Yuli about the playoffs and how they’ve been, but in my time, just what I’ve been able to tell these guys is take it game by game and forget about yesterday. If you have a good game, a bad game, the most important game is the next one. I think that’s what I can give to the younger guys in my position.”

Luzardo is expected to make two more regular season starts to push Miami to a Wild Card berth: Saturday at home against the Brewers and next weekend on the road against the Pirates during the Marlins’ final series.

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