Patience or Panic: Jordan Walker, Gleyber Torres, Jesus Luzardo

What should we do with these struggling players?

It’s hard to believe that we’re already a month into the season. That’s a statistically significant chunk of time, and yet, it’s also practically meaningless. At this time last year, Marcel Ozuna was slashing .091/.206/.218. He finished the year with his first-ever 40-homer season and a very competitive .274/.346/.558 line. At the same time, Sandy Alcantara ended April with a 5.11 ERA and never really recovered. He brought that down slightly by year’s end but never returned the third-round investment that most fantasy managers had paid. In both cases, there were warning signs that not everything was what meets the eye. We’ll do the best we can with the evidence we have, but you need to remember that things can change quickly in this game.


Jordan Walker, OF, St. Louis Cardinals


Walker finished 0-for-3 Tuesday, extending his hitless streak to five games. He has just one multi-hit game this season and is slashing .155/.239/.259. He has yet to hit a home run or steal a base, which is something I’m guessing his fantasy managers are fairly interested in seeing happen.

Walker came into the league last year as the next big thing in the mold of Julio Rodriguez only to find himself back in the minors by May. That demotion came on the heels of an April debut performance that looks fairly appealing compared to what he’s done so far as a sophomore. Last year, he ended April slashing .279/.329/.412 with a pair of homers and two stolen bases. He eventually was recalled back to St. Louis in June and finished the season with a respectable .341 wOBA and 116 wRC+ while flashing enough of his five-tool potential to push him back up draft boards this spring.

Walker’s biggest problems coming into the season were his contact skills and poor defense. Of course, defense doesn’t matter for our game as long as a player can perform well enough to maintain his spot on the roster. The contact skills are another issue.



There was a clear need for Walker to improve his approach. His whiff rate was a glaring weakness and a large part of what was holding him back. His propensity to chase pitches outside the zone led to an abundance of weak contact and an elevated 22.4% strikeout rate.

Verdict: Delayed Panic. It’s kind of a cop-out but Walker has positive signs and some very real concerns. The biggest concern is that he already has fallen into a platoon thanks to his slow start. And it appears to be the weak side of that platoon. Over his team’s past seven games, Walker has started just three while batting eighth in the order. Walker could soon find himself out of the lineup and on his way to Triple-A. At that point, he would be a droppable asset.

While that concern is very, very real, there are enough positive signs to give me pause. To start, he’s showing real improvement in his plate approach. While he is struggling more than ever to make contact on pitches out of the zone (41.7%), he’s improved both his chase rate (29.3%) and his whiff rate (27.6%). His walk rate has improved as a result, which will force pitchers back in the zone. For that reason, I’ll give him a pass on his current 27% strikeout rate which should correct back to the low 20s or better. When it does, some good things will follow.

Walker’s average exit velocity (92.3 mph), barrel rate (12.5%), and hard-hit rate (42.5%) are all somewhere between above-average and elite. There is a wide gap between his wOBA of .232 and his xwOBA of .304. Neither number is strong but could quickly improve once his dreadful .225 BABIP sees correction.

With any luck, Walker can show enough improvement to maintain his role.


Gleyber Torres, 2B, New York Yankees


Torres took a huge step forward last year. He slashed .273/.347/.453 with 25 home runs, 68 RBI, 90 runs, and 13 stolen bases. Those numbers were not drastically different than the previous season, but he made huge improvements behind the scenes that hinted he was on a new path to stardom in the Bronx. The most notable of those improvements was a career-best 14.6% strikeout rate—down from 22.6%.

We’ve seen very little of that same player in 2024.

After going 0-for-3 on Tuesday, Torres is slashing .186/.290/.209 with no home runs, 2 RBI, 12 runs scored, and 22:8 K:BB. His struggles have forced the Yankees to move him out of the leadoff spot and down to the bottom half of the lineup. He has chipped in three stolen bases to ease some of the suffering, but a one-category player is of no use in our game. While his exit velocities are in line with his career norms, his strikeout rate has completely reversed course to pull down the rest of his profile.

Verdict: Patience. I won’t be surprised if last year’s strikeout rate ends up becoming a bit of an aberration, but cutting your strikeouts nearly in half isn’t something that just happens randomly for an entire season. Surprisingly, Torres is still showing a strong eye at the plate despite his struggles. His chase rate is a career-low 19.6%, which is in the 90th percentile and a significant improvement over last year (25.9%). That means most of his whiffs are coming on pitches inside the zone, and honestly, that seems like an easier problem to solve. I get the sense that Torres does not have his timing down. Overall, he’s taking fewer swings, pulling fewer balls, and getting under at a ridiculous clip. If we’re still here in mid-June, feel free to panic, but I suspect he going to figure it out. His manager feels the same way:

“He’s not far off from really popping,” said Yankees manager Aaron Boone. “He’s one of those guys offensively that I’m not too worried about. He’s going to get it rolling. … He’s putting together a lot of good at-bats, not always finishing them off necessarily, but it’s a matter of time.”


Jesús Luzardo, SP, Miami Marlins


Luzardo’s first four starts of the season left a lot to be desired. The worst was a two-start stretch where he allowed 12 earned runs and saw his overall numbers balloon to a 7.65 ERA and 1.55 WHIP. His most recent start helped move those numbers in a more positive direction, but he still sitting with a 6.58 ERA and 1.42 WHIP overall. He is giving up a lot of hard contact and has had trouble spotting both his four-seamer and his slider. Luzardo is at his best when he is working north-south with those pitches—fastballs snagging the top of the zone and sliders dropping out. Right now there just isn’t enough separation. His fastball is all over the place and his sliders are getting too much of the plate.

Verdict: Patience. After struggling against the Yankees and Braves (understandable), Luzardo’s latest start against the Cubs provides hope. He had 10 whiffs on 32 sliders and allowed just one hard hit—a 103.3 mph triple that nearly left the park and drove in two batters who reached previously on weak singles. The final result was Luzardo’s first quality start of the season. His next two starts are away against Washington and at home against the Rockies. He’s worth playing in those games. Keep an eye on his pitch command, particularly his slider which has been his most inconsistent pitch this year. A strong fastball means nothing without the slider. Hopefully, he gets locked in before going on the road against the Dodgers in early May.



Ryan Loren

Ryan Loren is a baseball writer for Pitcher List and a Detroit sports fan struggling to remember what it's like to root for winning teams.

One response to “Patience or Panic: Jordan Walker, Gleyber Torres, Jesus Luzardo”

  1. JT says:

    Awesome writeup! Always find these very helpful.

    Suggestions/requests for the next “Patience or Panic:” Jeimer Candelario, Chas McCormick, Jack Suwinski, and Colt Keith.

    Please and thanks!!

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