While his long term role may be in the rotation, the Oakland A’s will use A.J. Puk as a reliever if he comes back this season.
While the Oakland A’s have gotten one of their injured phenoms back and in the starting rotation, there is another one that has yet to take the mound. A.J. Puk has battled a variety of injuries, which have kept him from reaching his immense potential. Those injuries resurfaced again in the A’s summer camp, knocking out the pitcher expected to be their fifth starter this season.
Instead, that first major league start will have to wait. If Puk is to return this season, it will be in a bullpen role.
That ‘if’ is the major caveat. Puk is not exactly far along in his rehab from this latest injury, throwing from 75 feet at this point. He still needs to work his way back to pitching from the mound, and will then need some time before he will be game ready.
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Puk showed flashes of the type of pitcher he can be for the A’s last year. He was solid in his 11.1 innings in relief last year, allowing four runs on ten hits and five walks while striking out 13 batters. Although he did have some issues with his command, Puk showed the potential to be the pitcher the A’s had been hoping for.
The question is now a matter of what his long term role will be. The A’s still envision Puk as a starter, where his arsenal gives him the potential to develop into a top of the rotation starter. But it is a matter of whether or not his arm will hold up in such a role. To this point, it has not.
This leaves Puk’s long term role in question. While the potential is there for him to be a top of the rotation starter, there were potential command issues that could have led to a bullpen role even before his injuries. If he comes back in 2020, that could be the start of his relief career.
The Oakland A’s will use A.J. Puk as a reliever if he comes back in 2020. The big question is that if.