The Oakland A’s are continuing along in the Out of the Park 2021 simulation of the 2020 season. However, that season is showing why there are concerns with A.J. Puk.
Heading into the 2020 season, the Oakland A’s are hoping that the pair of Jesus Luzardo and A.J. Puk will be the next set of aces in their rotation. For now, they are slotted as the fourth and fifth starters respectively, although that could easily change by the end of the season.
Even with their lofty prospect status, there are concerns with both pitchers. Luzardo and Puk have both dealt with injury over the years, limiting their professional exposure. In fact, both pitchers have pitched over 100 innings only once each as a professional, something that the A’s were going to monitor had there been a normal season.
With the 2020 season being simulated by Out of the Park 2021, the A’s found themselves a half game out of first in the AL West, trailing the surprising Mariners. For his part, Luzardo has been everything that the A’s had expected. Puk, meanwhile, has been far more of a work in progress.
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He had a late start to the season, being activated from the injured list on April 18, explaining why he had made just 11 appearances. However, he has not exactly lasted long, as he has thrown just 49 innings over that time. While quality starts are not exactly a statistic that holds much weight, he has tallied just two in those 11 starts.
As expected, Puk’s other numbers have not been what the A’s would hope for. In those 49 innings, he has posted a 4.96 ERA and a 1.367 WHiP. While Puk has allowed just 41 hits, he has struggled with his command, issuing 26 walks. On the positive side, Puk has struck out 54 batters to help minimize the damage.
Those command issues have been the biggest question mark when it comes to Puk’s long term role. He has the pure stuff to dominate, but it is a matter of whether or not he can harness his arsenal. If not, Puk could be a dominant reliever, but the A’s are, understandably, hoping for more.
The simulated 2020 season has highlighted the positives and negatives as it comes to A.J. Puk. When/if the season actually begins, the Oakland A’s are hoping for far more of the former.