It may be a small step, but A.J. Puk is getting closer to making his return to the Oakland A’s.
The Oakland A’s have been waiting for A.J. Puk for sone time. He was expected to be a part of the A’s rotation as soon as 2018, but injuries derailed those plans. He eventually found his way to the majors as a part of the bullpen as part of the A’s September callups, giving a hint of his immense potential.
Once again, Puk was expected to be a part of the A’s rotation to start the year, and once again, injuries derailed those plans. He has yet to make an appearance this season as he works his way back from a strained shoulder.
But Puk is slowly getting closer to making his 2020 debut. He already threw a 30 pitch bullpen session on Monday, using all four of his pitches. On Thursday, he will have another bullpen session, presumably a bit longer, as he looks to get ready once more.
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If Puk is able to join the A’s this season, it will be in a bullpen role. He performed well as a reliever last season, allowing just four runs on ten hits and five walks over his 11.1 innings while striking out 13 batters. He showed that he could be a dominant late inning option.
One can see why. He has the type of arsenal that could thrive in a bullpen role with his high octane fastball and devastating slider. His changeup, which is a solid third offering in a starter role, would help keep hitters off balance during his relief stints. Puk’s occasional lapses of command would not be an issue in that role either, which had made a conversion to the bullpen a possibility even before the injuries.
Long term, the expectation is still that Puk will be a starter. He has a four pitch arsenal, and the type of stuff that could make him a front line arm. But that arsenal, especially his fastball/slider combination, could also make Puk the A’s answer to Josh Hader.
A.J. Puk is getting closer to contributing to the Oakland A’s this season. It is just a matter of how long that will take.