Oakland A’s: A.J. Puk continues to struggle in Triple-A
By David Hill
The Oakland A’s were hoping that A.J. Puk would have established himself as a part of their bullpen by this point in the season. He had been hampered at the start of the season by injuries once more, lasted for one outing in the majors, and was immediately placed on the Injured List again. The hope was, that once he was ready, Puk would be activated and be ready to become a key part of the A’s bullpen once more.
That has not happened. He struggled during his time in the minors during his rehab assignment, and was subsequently optioned down when he was ready to be activated. This time, the hope was that he would eventually find himself, and be able to return to the majors once again.
A.J. Puk continues to struggle in Triple-A
But that has not happened. Instead, Puk has posted a horrendous 9.27 ERA and a 1.970 WHiP over his 22.1 innings. While he has recorded 30 strikeouts with a relatively palatable 11 walks, he has been getting shelled. Puk has given up 33 hits, including nine homers.
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These struggles are coming at a truly inopportune time for the A’s. They have a desperate need for pieces in the middle of their bullpen, as they have been cycling through arms in an attempt to find something that will work. Puk could have been the piece they need, a multi-inning weapon whose potential to serve as a fireman would help alleviate the pressure on the back of the bullpen.
Instead, he has been pummeled in Triple-A. Injuries have already removed the prospect bloom from him, and his ongoing struggles this season in the minors are not helping matters. Puk has performed well when he has been in the majors, but he needs to prove that he is worth bringing back up to get that chance.
It is possible that Puk will right the ship. Triple-A West has been an offensively charged league, and Las Vegas has been a launching pad. But Puk needs to show something, and he needs to show it soon. Otherwise, he may go down as another top prospect whose inability to stay healthy hampered his career.
The Oakland A’s could desperately use A.J. Puk in the middle of their bullpen. Unfortunately, his ongoing struggles make that impossible.