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Marlins lefty Luzardo, who sizzled all spring, faces Cardinals after his 12K season debut

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Yadier Molina

Cardinal players celebrate with Yadier Molina on Wednesday, June 16, 2021, after his game-winning hit in the bottom of the ninth inning to win 1-0 against the Miami Marlins at Busch Stadium in St. Louis, Mo. Photo by Christian Gooden,

MIAMI — Back in Florida, where they spent so much of the past month, and the view will be familiar from inside the batter's box.

Throughout their Grapefruit League schedule, the Cardinals faced a parade of front-of-the-rotation starters. If it wasn't former MVP and Cy Young Award-winner Justin Verlander in West Palm Beach, Fla., it was NL Rookie of the Year runnerup Trevor Rogers in Jupiter, Fla., and there was the one day in Port St. Lucie, Fla., that the Cardinals faced Cy Young Award-winners Jacob deGrom and Max Scherzer in the same game against the New York Mets.

During a spring where the Cardinals routinely drew aces, there was one pitcher yet to decorate his wall with such awards who still stood out.

Marlins' Jesus Luzardo.

The 24-year-old left-hander had a 0.77 ERA in his three spring starts, and he struck out 10 in 11 2/3 innings. When asked about the quality of pitchers they saw during spring training, the Cardinals were quick to include the young lefty.

Luzardo was the straight-up prized acquisition from Oakland in last year's trade deadline move that sent outfielder Starling Marte to the A's. And didn't really do much in the National League to reduce the bloat of his ERA from the American League. In 12 starts for the Marlins, Luzardo had a 6.44 ERA and he allowed 96 baserunners in 57 1/3 innings. His fastball was mashed by opponents and further reduced the effectiveness of his strikeout pitch, a whirly-gig breaking ball that could be called a slider. 

That fastball has seen a significant jump already this season.

On his way to a 6.61 ERA overall in the majors in 2021, Luzardo's fastball averaged 95.5 mph. In his first start of this season, it hopped to an average of 97.5 mph. He threw at least one at 99 mph. He threw it 48% of the time in that one game, and because of its effectiveness he paired it with that slider, which he threw 50% of the time.

In five innings, he struck out a dozen batters.

In the first inning, he struck out Shohei Ohtani and Anthony Rendon on breaking balls, and he needed only nine pitches to retire the side.

The Angels got two hits against him — and he walked only one, Mike Trout.

The Cardinals will counter the young lefty with their veteran battery as it continues the climb toward a major-league record. Adam Wainwright and Yadier Molina will make their 307th start together. Molina returns to the starting lineup after Andrew Knizner handled catcher for the final three games of the Cardinals four-game stop in Milwaukee.

The lineup manager Oliver Marmol has written for the first of three at Marlins Parks reflects the matchup-oriented moves he's made so far this season.

Tommy Edman moves up. Albert Pujols is in at designated hitter.

The Cardinals made the point on social media that Pujols, once wooed by the Marlins as a free agent, has homered in every current ballpark except Marlins Park, now known as loanDepot Park. He has played five games at the Miami ballpark. The Cardinals' DH hit his 681st home run Sunday in Milwaukee.

UPDATE: Miles Mikolas will start Wednesday's game against the Marlins, and right-hander Jordan Hicks will make his major-league debut as a starter Thursday. Steven Matz's start will bump back to Friday in Cincinnati. 

Here's the lineup around him and behind Wainwright: 


1. Dylan Carlson, RF

2. Paul Goldschmidt, 1B

3. Tyler O'Neill, LF

4. Nolan Arenado, 3B

5. Albert Pujols, DH

6. Tommy Edman, 2B

7. Paul DeJong, SS

8. Yadier Molina, C

9. Harrison Bader, CF

P: Adam Wainwright, RHP


1. Jesus Sanchez, CF

2. Garrett Cooper, 1B

3. Jesus Aguilar, DH

4. Joey Wendle, 3B

5. Avisail Garcia, RF

6. Brian Anderson, LF

7. Jazz Chisholm Jr., 2B

8. Jacob Stallings, C

9. Miguel Rojas, SS

P: Jesus Luzardo, LHP

Check back throughout the evening here at C-Beat for coverage of the game from Marlins Park. There will be expanded game coverage from the site in the pages of the Wednesday's Post-Dispatch and online at 

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