Oakland A’s taking cautious route with A.J. Puk

Apr 5, 2021; Oakland, California, USA; Oakland Athletics pitcher A.J. Puk (33) delivers a pitch against the Los Angeles Dodgers during the fourth inning at RingCentral Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Neville E. Guard-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 5, 2021; Oakland, California, USA; Oakland Athletics pitcher A.J. Puk (33) delivers a pitch against the Los Angeles Dodgers during the fourth inning at RingCentral Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Neville E. Guard-USA TODAY Sports /
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The expectation was that A.J. Puk would play a major role on the Oakland A’s in 2021. He had been penciled in as their fifth starter, only to be delayed by injuries. He finally made his 2021 debut, but was immediately placed on the Injured List after the outing. That hoped for impact just had not come.

Understandably, the A’s are going to be cautious this time around. Puk is healthy once more, but was optioned back to Triple-A after being activated from the IL.

Oakland A’s taking their time with A.J. Puk

There was a built in roster slot for Puk to return to the majors. The A’s had placed Reymin Guduan on the IL, taking another left handed pitcher from their bullpen. Puk, in theory, would have been able to slot into that role, potentially giving the A’s a pitcher with a great deal of upside in that spot.

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Puk has displayed the stuff that made him such a highly rated prospect for years during his time in the majors. Over his 14.2 major league innings, Puk has allowed four runs on 11 hits while striking out 17 batters. However, his occasional lapses of command have also been evident, as he has issued eight walks.

While he has had success in the majors, Puk’s stint in Triple-A this year has been dreadful. He has allowed eight runs on 11 hits, including three homers, in his five innings in Las Vegas. On the positive side, Puk has issued just one walk while striking out nine, but his overall results certainly do not warrant a return to the majors just yet.

The A’s clearly feel that way as well. The easy path would be to bring Puk back to the majors, and hope that his struggles with the longball were a product of Las Vegas instead of any specific issues. Instead, the A’s are being cautious, and making sure that Puk is right before he comes back to Oakland. And that is the correct path to take.

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The Oakland A’s are being cautious with A.J. Puk. Even if he is completely healthy, the right thing to do is to keep him in Las Vegas to make sure he is right.

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